Middle East

Rights group slams arrest of Palestinian cartoonist

Palestinians and foreign activists chant slogans as they march with their hands chained together during a protest held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza City, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Tattoo on arm reads "Palestine". (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Media rights group Reporters Without Borders on Thursday condemned the arrest of a Palestinian newspaper cartoonist and called on Israel to reveal the accusations against him.

"Reporters Without Borders condemns Palestinian cartoonist Mohamed Sabaaneh's arbitrary arrest by Israeli authorities," the Paris-based group said in a statement.

It said the Israeli authorities arrested Sabaaneh, 33, at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan into the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"An Israeli military court decided yesterday to hold him for another nine days," it said, urging Israel to "publicly say what he is charged with and to let him see a lawyer."

The military had no immediate comment.

The group said Sabaaneh had been arrested on Saturday, with the date corroborated by Bashar Barmawi, managing editor of the Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida daily where the cartoonist works.

"Since his arrest we have been in contact with his lawyer and his family but the occupation forces are not saying where he is held and no one can see him," he said.

"So far, we are unaware of his location or the reason why he was arrested."

Reporters Without Borders said Sabaaneh was being held in Kishon prison near Haifa in northern Israel.

"This is a part of the Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists," said Abd al-Nasser al-Najar, head of the Palestinian journalists' union.

"It is either blocking their freedom of movement or targeting them directly when they cover events in the (occupied) territories," he told AFP.





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