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Israel releases Palestinian journalist without charge after ten months

Palestinians labelled Omar Nazzal's arrest an attack on press freedom [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 February, 2017

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Omar Nazzal was released on Monday after nearly one year in prison and 13 hearings in an Israeli military court, the journalist confirmed on Tuesday.
A senior Palestinian journalist was released after 10 months in an Israeli jail without charge, he told AFP on Tuesday.

Omar Nazzal, 55, was released on Monday after nearly a year in prison and following 13 hearings in an Israeli military court, he said. 

Despite this, he never received specific allegations, he added, only a "general accusation" that he was threatening "regional security".

"When my lawyer asked for details, he got only rejections from judges and military prosecutors," Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said.

He was arrested on April 23 at the border between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan, from where he had been due to fly to a European Federation of Journalists gathering in Bosnia.

Nazzal, a former employee at the Palestine Today newspaper, was detained under Israel's controversial administrative detention laws, which allow suspects to be interned for indefinite periods without charge on evidence often not given to their lawyers.

The Palestinians labelled his arrest an attack on press freedom while several international organisations have called for his release.

However, Israel insists that Nazzal was detained for "his involvement in terror group activities", not "because of his activity as a journalist".

He is accused of being in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - a leftist party banned by Israel.

The UN frequently calls on Israel to either charge or release the 530 held under administrative detention, according to figures from the Palestinian Prisoners Club. 

According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, around 20 journalists or journalism students are held by Israel, one of them for more than 20 years. 

Mohammed al-Qiq, a journalist with Saudi television channel Al-Majd, has been on hunger strike for 16 days, his supporters said.

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