Gaza press protests Israel’s arrest of Al-Jazeera journalist Samer Allawi

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Dozens of journalists protested Saturday in front of UN offices in Gaza City demanding that Israel immediately released Al-Jazeera correspondent Samer Allawi.

Israeli authorities detained Allawi, Afghanistan bureau chief of the Qatar-based network, at the Allenby Bridge on the Jordan-West Bank border on August 10.

Allawi was returning from a three-week holiday in his hometown of Sebastiya in the West Bank district of Nablus, a statement from the satellite news channel’s Jerusalem bureau said.

Speaking at Saturday’s protest, director of the Doha Media Center Adel Zanoun said journalists paid a heavy price for their work as Israel either killed or detained them.

“Journalists came to speak out loud and ask Israel to immediately release Samir Allawi and all other journalists detained in Israel. The only crime those journalists committed was being professional and defending the freedom of press and expression.”

Al-Jazeera correspondent in Gaza Wael Dahdouh also highlighted the dangers of journalism in the region, saying reporters were “either killed, injured or detained.” He noted that Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan Al-Jaber was killed in March in Libya.

Dahdouh said Allawi had visited his family in Nablus several times before without incident.

Israel was holding Allawi without charge “in line with Israel’s arbitrary practices against Al-Jazeera,” he added.

In August, Allawi’s lawyer Salim Waqim told Ma’an the journalist was arrested by Israel’s internal intelligence service Shin Bet.

He was being held on suspicion of affiliation with Hamas’ military wing, but there was no evidence against him, the lawyer said.

Israeli intelligence forces questioned the journalist about his work and management of Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Afghanistan, Waqim added, and took the login details for his personal work email and news software information.

His financial status, relationships with family and relatives, school days in Nablus and his college years in Islamabad were also questioned, the lawyer said.

Israeli authorities queried whether Allawi was in touch with US, Jordanian, Palestinian or other intelligence services, and accused him of being a member of and in contact with Islamist group Hamas.

( / 03.09.2011)

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