Israeli security forces arrested Palestinian freelance journalist Musaab Ibrahim Saeed on August 26. He is held without charge in an Israeli detention facility in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Saeed is in administrative detention, an Israeli category of detention for which authorities are not required to publicly disclose charges or a reason for arrest.
Saeed is a Palestinian freelance photographer and cameraman who recently produced a short documentary for the Aneed al-Qaid Media Network about the Palestinian detainee Islam Jarrar. He shoots and edits wedding videos through his business Blue Eyes Studio, and sometimes uses the Facebook page of the studio to report local news. In past years he has contributed to several local news outlets, including the Quds News Network, Hebron Online, Shehab News, and Wattan News, covering topics including protests, political rallies, and fires.
On August 26, dozens of Israeli soldiers surrounded and raided Saeed’s home in the West Bank town of Birzeit, 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) north of Ramallah, and held him for 30 minutes in one of the house’s rooms before arresting him, according to Palestinian press freedom group MADA, footage of his arrest posted on Facebook by the news website Palestine Times, and a Facebook post by Saeed that day saying troops were closing in on his home. The arresting officers did not notify him of any charges against him, according to MADA.
According to MADA, soldiers told Saeed’s family that he was under arrest. His brother Mohammad Saeed told CPJ he is in administrative detention, in which a person is detained on classified evidence without legal proceedings.
On September 13, Saeed was transferred from the Etzion detention center in the occupied West Bank to Meggido Prison in northern Israel, according to a Facebook post published that day by Saeed’s brother, and news reports. In early November, Mohammad Saeed told CPJ that the journalist had again been transferred, this time to Ktzi’ot Prison in the Negev desert, also in Israeli territory. He did not say when the transfer occurred.
Israeli authorities typically use administrative detention when security and intelligence services suspect that the detainee is planning to commit a crime against national security, according to the Israeli human rights organization 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.
His brother told CPJ this was Saeed’s fourth arrest and that he has spent a total of three and a half years in Israeli prisons. Saeed was previously arrested in March 2017 and held until early December 2018, according to a local news report, which did not provide further details on any charges. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Media Office, an independent group that provides updates on Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, said that Saeed had launched a 12-day hunger strike during the 2017-2018 detention to protest prison conditions and his transfer to a different facility; it also said Saeed had been arrested on another occasion previous to the March 2017 arrest, for “activities in national issues,” or nationalistic Palestinian causes, without providing details.
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 Saeed’s arrest and whether official charges have been filed. Neither have replied.