Palestinian reporter Mujahed al-Saadi was arrested by the Israeli army on June 24. Al-Saadi is in administrative detention, an Israeli category of detention for which authorities are not required to publicly disclose charges or a reason for arrest.
Al-Saadi is a freelance journalist who contributes to several broadcasters and news agencies, including Palestine Today TV, according to Palestine Today TV employee Seif Maweid, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. The local press freedom group MADA and Beirut-based Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom also identified him as a freelancer.
For Palestine Today TV, al-Saadi covers local news, including protests. CPJ has been unable to locate any of al-Saadi’s journalistic work online after 2017, when he contributed protest footage to the local Shehab News Agency.
On June 24, Israeli soldiers arrested al-Saadi at his home in Jenin without informing him of the reasons for his arrest, according to Palestinian press freedom group MADA, Beirut-based SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom,and footage of his arrest posted on YouTube by the London-based news website Al-Araby al-Jadeed. On June 28, the Red Crescent informed Al-Saadi’s family that he had been taken to an Israeli military facility south of Nablus and subsequently moved the Russian Compound in Jerusalem for questioning, according to MADA and news reports.
From that point, reports differ on the proceedings against al-Saadi. MADA reported that al-Saadi had a hearing on June 30, during which he was ordered to spend six months in administrative detention; but news reports say that he was placed under a four-month administrative detention on July 8. CPJ was unable to determine which report is accurate. On October 21, an Israeli court extended al-Saadi’s administrative detention for another four months, according to news reports.
A person under administrative detention is typically kept on classified evidence without legal proceedings, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem. Israeli authorities use administrative detention when security and intelligence services suspect that the detainee is planning to commit a crime against national security, according to B’tselem, which noted that the lack of transparency in proceedings makes it difficult to verify claims against the individual. Administrative detention can be renewed indefinitely, the group said.
Al-Saadi may have been previously targeted for his journalistic work. In 2016, he was sentenced to seven months in jail and a fine of 5,000 NIS (US$1,400), according to Palestine Today TV. According to one news report, he was punished for his work as a journalist, which Israeli authorities saw as “incitement.” Another report quoted his family saying that Israeli authorities accused him of “contacting the enemy and helping it by reporting the news.”
Prior to the 2016 sentence, al-Saadi spent five years in Israeli jails, according to Palestine Today TV, which did not include any details about charges or legal proceedings during that time.
In a local news report on al-Saadi’s most recent arrest, his family said that the journalist suffers from rheumatism, injuries to a cervical disc, and muscle and back pain due to authorities beating him during previous interrogations.
In September 2020, CPJ emailed the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military’s administrative wing of the occupied territories and wrote to the Israeli military’s international spokesman Jonathan Conricus via messaging app to inquire about the reasons for al-Saadi’s arrest and subsequent administrative detention and whether official charges have been filed against him. Neither have replied.