Palestinian security forces are seen in Bethlehem, the West Bank, on March 6, 2020. Security forces recently arrested journalist Sami al-Saie. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinian security forces arrest journalist Sami al-Saie in the West Bank

New York, June 10, 2020 — Palestinian authorities should immediately release journalist Sami al-Saie and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, Palestinian Preventive Security forces in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm arrested al-Saie, news editor for the local news website Karmool Tulkarm and reporter for the An-Najah Broadcasting Channel, according to a report by Karmool Tulkarm, news reports, and a statement by the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional free expression group.

The journalist’s wife, Amani al-Jundub, told Skeyes that she did not know why he was arrested or if any charges had been filed against him, and said she had hired a lawyer to defend al-Saie. She later told the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds news website that al-Saie was being held at a detention center run by the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in Tulkarm.

“Palestinian authorities cannot simply make journalists disappear without a clear legal process,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Authorities must release Sami al-Saie immediately, drop any charges against him, and allow him and all other members of the press to work freely.”

The local news website Ultra Sawt cited anonymous security sources as saying that al-Saie had been brought for questioning about an unspecified Facebook page.

Al-Saie covers local news in Tulkarm, and recently reported on the closure of the Al-Taybeh crossing in Tulkarm between Israel and the Palestinian territories to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On his personal Twitter account, al-Saie recently criticized the Associated Press’ decision to lay off Palestinian cameraman Eyad Hamad, and posted updates on the COVID-19 situation in the Palestinian territories. His personal Facebook page is currently unavailable.

Karmool Tulkarm wrote that Palestinian intelligence agents previously arrested al-Saie in February 2017 and held him for nearly a month over his activity on social media. That report also said that Israeli security forces arrested al-Saie in March 2016 for posting alleged incitement on social media, and held him for nine months.

CPJ messaged the Palestinian Preventive Security forces on their official Facebook page for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.