Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 22-08-2011
Al Jazeera is calling for Israel to “immediately release” its journalist Samer Allawi, who has now been held by the state without charge for 12 days.
Mr Allawi, was arrested on 10 August, “without reason while on vacation with his family in the occupied West Bank,” according to a statement from the Qatar-based satellite TV network.
Samer Allawi was accused of having ties with the militant group Hamas in front of a military judge on 16 August, who placed him in detention for a further seven days. During the 25 minute hearing, Mr Allawi disputed the allegations, and reportedly said authorities were "fishing for information to convict me or Al-Jazeera."
Mr Allawi was detained by Israeli officials at the King Hussein Bridge, when returning to the Al Jazeera bureau he runs in the Afghan capital Kabul, after visiting family in Sabastiya, near Nablus. He was taken to a prison camp in Jalama (Kishon) east of Haifa, where he was initially placed under arrest for 96 hours.
His arrest was extended on 16 August and he still remains in state custody, being subject to interrogation by Israeli intelligence forces - according to his employers.
Alarm at the arrest has been expressed by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Israeli authorities must publicly explain and provide evidence as to why they continue to hold Samer Allawi,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Being a journalist is not a crime.”
The Israeli military, Shin Bet internal security service, and police have not commented on the affair.
However, Al Jazeera says authorities had accused Mr Allawi of being a member of the Palestinian organisation Hamas and contacting its military leadership.
After winning the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Israel, the European Union and the United States consider it a terrorist group.
Palestinian journalists, like all Palestinians, are subjected to military tribunals instead of civilian courts in Israel. Mr Allawi, who began working for Al Jazeera in 2006, holds a Palestinian identity card.
“Al-Jazeera Network reiterates its demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our journalist Samer Allawi,” said a statement from the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster.