Atta Farhat

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

A special unit of the Israeli police force raided the home of Syrian journalist Farhat, 35, in the northern Golan Heights village of Baqaata in the early morning of July 30, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, a local nongovernmental organization, and its partner, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, said in a joint statement. Police searched the property, seized the reporter’s personal computer and cell phone, and arrested him, according to the groups.

Pursuant to a court order, Farhat was held in Al-Jamala Prison, about nine miles (14 kilometers) southeast of Haifa. He appeared before an Israeli judge several times but was not charged, the organizations reported. They said his requests for “temporary release” pending further court proceedings were denied.

The groups said in their joint statement that Israeli authorities had not disclosed the reasons for Farhat’s detention, but that he may be accused of “collaborating with an enemy state.” The center said it suspects the allegation is directly related to his journalistic activities for Syrian media. Farhat is editor-in-chief of the daily news Web site Golan Times and a correspondent for the Syrian daily Al-Watan and state-run Syrian TV. Farhat published articles in the Syrian press describing the living conditions of Syrians under Israeli rule in the contested territory.