Beirut, November 1, 2019 -- Hamas security forces should immediately release journalist Bassam Mohammad Moheisen, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 23, officers of the Hamas-affiliated Internal Security Forces arrested Moheisen, a reporter for the Palestinian National Authority-affiliated Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza, at the forces’ headquarters west of Gaza City after the journalist responded to a summons, according to a statement by Moheisen’s employer and news reports.
The journalist’s family has not been able to visit him in detention, and authorities have not announced any charges or reason for the arrest, his brother Baha Moheisen told the regional press freedom group Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
“Hamas authorities in Gaza have again demonstrated how low press freedom ranks in their priorities,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Hamas forces must immediately release Bassem Moheisen and allow journalists to do their jobs freely and without fear of reprisal.”
In a statement published on Facebook on October 25, the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said that Moheisen had been arrested for his posts on social media.
On the days prior to his arrest, Moheisen made several posts on Facebook in support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid for re-election, and posted a video about journalist Hani al-Agha, who has been held by Hamas Internal Security Forces since September 25, as CPJ reported at the time.
In a statement released on October 27, Ola Kassab, deputy director of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation for Gaza, said that Moheisen has a health condition and requires weekly medical tests. According to news reports, Moheisen has worked for the broadcaster for 19 years as director of the radio station “Voice of Palestine” in Gaza.
The Hamas Internal Security Forces did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment via messaging app.