PA arrests Palestinian over participating in Al Jazeera course

Journalist is facing incarceration by Palestinian Authority security forces for visiting Qatar to participate in Al-Jazeera training program.

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

 

A Palestinian journalist from the West Bank complained Tuesday that Palestinian Authority security forces have been harassing him ever since he visited Qatar.

The Doha skyline - Photo REUTERS

The Doha skyline – Photo REUTERS

The journalist, Tarek al-Sarkaji, said that if visiting Qatar were a crime in the eyes of the PA security forces, then they should also arrest PA President Mahmoud Abbas for visiting the Gulf country.

Al-Sarkaji, who lives in Nablus and also works as a TV producer, said his problems began when he return to the West Bank after attending a training course for the Doha-based Al-Jazeera TV station.

His father, Yusef, was a senior Hamas commander who was killed by the IDF in 2002.

Al-Jazeera’s relations with the PA leadership have deteriorated ever since the station published documents about the peace talks with Israel that were stolen from the office of PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Al-Sarkaji said he never imagined that his first day ever in prison would be in Palestinian custody.  He noted that he had never been arrested in the past, neither by Israel nor by the PA.

“I never imagined that my first day in detention would be in a Palestinian Authority security prison,” al-Sarkaji said.

“Since when was participation in an educational course a criminal charge?”

The Palestinian journalist said he could not understand why the PA security forces have not yet arrested Al-Jazeera correspondents in Ramallah.

“If traveling to Qatar is a crime, then it would be preferable to arrest President Mahmoud Abbas because he visited Qatar more than I did and he even has a relationship with the emir of Qatar,” he added.

According to al-Sarkaji, ever since he returned to the West Bank, he has been repeatedly summoned for interrogation by two different security forces: Preventive Security Force and General Intelligence Service.

On one occasion, he said, he was held in Jneid Prison outside Nablus for 24 hours, during which time he was subjected to physical and psychological torture.

“They held me in a tiny cell with no window or ventilation,” he recounted. “I had to hear the screams of another detainee in a nearby cell who was apparently being mistreated by the security officers.”

Al-Sarkaji said that his interrogators were interested only in his connections with Al-Jazeera and other people he had met while staying in Qatar and Jordan. He said his interrogators also questioned him about an article he had written about his father on the anniversary of death. ‭‮

 

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=306195

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