Beirut, February 28, 2020 — Israeli authorities should release Palestinian journalist Mujahed Muflih and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On February 26, Israeli police arrested Muflih, a reporter and editor for the news website Ultra Palestine, at the Za’tara checkpoint south of the West Bank city of Nablus, according to news reports, including a report by Muflih’s employer, and the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional press freedom group.
Police officers took Muflih to the Ariel Settlement in the central West Bank, where they interrogated him and placed him under investigation for incitement in relation to his Facebook posts, according to Skeyes and Ultra Palestine.
The Skeyes report said that Muflih would be brought to court on March 1, and that the Prisoners’ Club, a local prisoners’ support group, has provided a lawyer.
“Israeli police must allow Palestinian journalists to do their jobs and to share news and opinions, including on social media,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israeli authorities should not charge journalist Mujahed Muflih over his Facebook posts, and should release him immediately.”
Muflih was returning to his hometown of Beita from Ramallah with his wife and two children when he was stopped; police ordered him out of the car and arrested him on the spot, his brother, Asad Muflih, told Ultra Palestine.
CPJ could not determine which of Muflih’s Facebook posts are at the center of the investigation.
The day before his arrest, Muflih published a Facebook post translating into Arabic a Hebrew flyer that called on Israeli settlers to join a February 28 bike ride to the Jabal al-Aarma archeological site led by the head of the Settlements Council in the northern West Bank city of Yossi Dagan. He posted a comment saying the settlers “forgot what happened in 1988,” in reference to clashes between Israelis and Palestinians over settlements in that year.
The Israeli Interior Ministry did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.