Palestinian court grants bail to prominent activist

Issa Amro (C) a prominent Palestinian activist is led by Palestinian security forces out of the court in the West Bank town of Hebron on September 7, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2017

Palestinian court grants bail to prominent activist

HEBRON: A Palestinian court has released on bail a prominent activist arrested after he criticized president Mahmoud Abbas’s administration.
Issa Amro was detained by Palestinian security forces on Monday in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on accusations including causing “strife,” human rights activists said.
His lawyer, Muhannad Karaja, said he has also been accused of creating websites that “aim to undermine the state’s security,” in violation of a new Palestinian law on cybercrime.
Rights groups have criticized the law, saying it could be used to target critics of the Palestinian leadership.
“We asked for Issa to be released on bail,” Karaja said. “The prosecution and the court agreed on this in exchange for a deposit of 1,000 Jordanian dinars ($1,400).”
“Issa will appear later before the court regarding this case and all the charges against him,” he said.
The hearing was held in secret, with journalists barred from the courtroom. Karaja said he did not know when the next hearing would be held.
Dozens of activists protested outside prosecutors’ offices on Sunday over Amro’s detention, some with tape over their mouths.
Afer his release, Amro went to the offices of his Youth Against Settlements organization, where he was warmly greeted by fellow activists and spoke out against the law.
“I hope the president of the state of Palestine will decide today to freeze this law,” Amro said.
He spoke of the need for “a space for freedom of speech and freedom of criticism” and accused Palestinian security forces of verbal and “minor” physical abuse against him.
Amro’s Youth Against Settlements is a campaign group in the tense city of Hebron, where Jewish settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the center.
He was detained after post a Facebook post criticizing the Palestinian Authority’s arrest of a journalist from Hebron.
Palestinian officials have not publicly commented on Amro’s detention.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both criticized his arrest.
Amnesty has called it the “latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech.”
Separately, Amro is on trial by Israel on a range of charges dating back to 2010.
He has rejected all the charges, saying they are politically motivated and aim to prevent his peaceful resistance to Israel’s occupation.
“I have been threatened a dozen times by the Israeli occupation and I have received death threats from settlers, but all of this did not and will not stop me,” he said Sunday, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the logo “Palestinians Should Be Free.”
“I will continue defending my country against occupation and settlements, and defending the Palestinian national project for all the Palestinian people.”


Algerian court jails protesters over election

Updated 19 November 2019

Algerian court jails protesters over election

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has jailed four protesters for 18 months for disrupting a candidate’s campaign for the Dec. 12 presidential election which is opposed by a mass protest movement.
The court sentenced the four on Monday after protests on Sunday in the western city of Tlemcen, where one of the five candidates, Ali Benflis, was campaigning. No details were available on what their exact actions were.
Algeria’s authorities are trying to quell a protest movement that erupted in February to demand the departure of the country’s ruling hierarchy, an end to corruption and the army’s withdrawal from politics.
The army, which has emerged as the most powerful institution in the country, has pushed for next month’s election as a means to end the protests and restore normality. The former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, quit in April.
The judgment comes a week after a series of other prison sentences were handed down to protesters who had raised flags with Berber symbols during earlier demonstrations.
Several opposition leaders have also been held during the protests, and charged with contributing to damaging army morale.
However, the authorities have also detained numerous current and former senior officials on corruption charges, and have jailed some of them including the once untouchable former intelligence chief.
The protesters have rejected any presidential election carried out now, saying the continued presence of Bouteflika allies in the upper echelons of the government mean it cannot be free or fair.
Human Rights Watch said last week that the arrest of scores of protesters looked like “part of a pattern of trying to weaken opposition to Algeria’s interim rulers and their determination to hold presidential elections.”