New York, November 5, 2021 — Palestinian authorities in the West Bank should immediately and unconditionally release freelance journalist Naseem Mualla and allow journalists to work without fear of detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Early yesterday morning, Palestinian police and intelligence officers raided Mualla’s home in the town of Beita, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, seized his cell phone, and arrested him, according to news reports, the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and a statement by the U.K.-based human rights group Arab Organization for Human Rights in the U.K.
Mualla’s brother, whose name was not disclosed, was cited in those news reports as saying that the officers who arrested Mualla told the family that he was wanted by the attorney general, but said they did not know the charges on which he was arrested. They did not tell the journalist’s family where they were taking Mualla, his brother said.
“Arresting journalists from their homes in the middle of the night without disclosing any charges is a common practice in authoritarian regimes, and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank should be ashamed of such actions,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Authorities should release journalist Naseem Mualla immediately and unconditionally, and allow Palestinian journalists to do their jobs freely and safely.”
Mualla, a freelance journalist, recently covered protests against Israeli settlements near Beita and clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli security forces for several media outlets, his brother said. Palestinian security forces in the West Bank are under the control of the Palestinian Authority, according to reports.
CPJ found examples of Mualla’s reporting on the protests on the local radio station Alam Radio and the news website Ultra Palestine.
He also posted videos covering the protests to his professional Facebook account, which has about 600 followers, including explanations on the situation, footage of the clashes and demonstrations, and pictures and stories of injured protesters.
CPJ emailed the Palestinian Interior Ministry and public prosecutor’s office for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.