New York, October 28, 2020 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today called for the immediate release of Palestinian journalist Abdulrahman Thaher.
Yesterday, Israeli security forces raided the home of Thaher, a Palestinian filmmaker and TV producer and presenter, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, arrested him, and took him to an unknown destination, according to news reports and the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
Thaher’s wife, Rasha al-Sayeh, was quoted by SKeyes as saying that Thaher woke her up at dawn when Israeli troops stormed into the building where they live.
“A few minutes later they were knocking on our apartment’s door. My husband opened and the soldiers asked if he was the famous journalist. He replied that he wasn’t famous. They searched the house, handcuffed and blindfolded him and took him to an unknown destination,” al-Sayeh told SKeyes.
“Abdulrahman Thaher’s arrest by Israeli security forces, coming weeks after his release from a month in Palestinian official custody, is a sad but honest illustration of the perils of being a Palestinian journalist, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Authorities should release him immediately.”
Thaher produces and presents TV comedy and satirical shows for the Amman-based broadcaster Roya TV and the United Kingdom-based Al-Araby TV, including the show “Trick–Caravan Plus,” in which Thaher travels across the Palestinian territories asking people tricky questions about Palestinian history, geography, or culture; and the series “Fenjan al-Balad,” which uses black humor to address political, social, and economic issues facing Palestinians, according to a CPJ review of the shows’ content.
On his personal Facebook account, which has over 21,000 followers, Thaher has recently posted calls for the release of the Nablus-based journalist Tareq Abu Zeid, who was arrested by Israeli forces on October 1, and for the renewal of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.
Thaher was arrested by Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in Nablus on August 19 over a Facebook post criticizing the normalization of ties with Israel resulting from the UAE-Israel peace deal and charged with defaming the Palestinian authorities, according to news reports and SKeyes. His lawyer, Mohanad Karajeh, told SKeyes that Thaher was questioned about his media work, which is critical of the Palestinian authorities.
Thaher was released on bail of 5,000 Jordanian dinars ($7,000) on September 21, according to a Facebook post by his wife.
Neither the office of the spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, nor the spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, immediately replied to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.