Sami Sai holding a sign that reads “No to arresting journalists”
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian journalist said he was tortured by Palestinian intelligence officers in a detention center in Jericho, according to a report published Monday by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), which said it appeared officers tortured Sami Sai “only to silence him.”
Sai, formerly a reporter for Ma’an who now works for local Palestinian TV station al-Fajr al-Jadid, wrote on Facebook on Monday that he was “beaten and tortured despite having nothing to confess.”
The journalist told MADA that he was accused of “inciting sectarian strife,” when he was first detained by Palestinian intelligence in Tulkarem, but was released on bail due to lack of evidence.
However, 15 minutes after leaving the detention center, he was rearrested while returning to his home, and taken to the Palestinian general intelligence investigation center in Jericho, according to the report.
He was then accused of being a recruiter for the Hamas movement, which he denied.
Despite his denial of the accusation, intelligence officers continued to inflict psychological and physical torture on Sai in attempt to elicit a confession.
MADA said Sai’s torture raised concerns that Palestinian security services were escalating attempts to intimidate journalists and influence Palestinian media to practice self-censorship.
MADA demanded a committee of inquiry be formed to investigate the torture and ill treatment of Sai.
While the group documented a decrease in the amount of press freedom violations in the occupied Palestinian territory by both Israeli and Palestinian forces in their annual 2016 report
, MADA nevertheless documented instances of torture committed by Palestinian parties and a continuation of Palestinian authorities “prosecuting journalists in relation to their publications on social media sites.”
The political divisions between Fatah and Hamas since conflict broke out between the groups in 2007 were cited as the major reason behind media violations in the Gaza Strip.
Rights groups have continued to criticize the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip, of suppressing both freedom of press and freedom of speech. Both governments have been the focus of condemnation
for targeting Palestinian journalists who openly criticize the government.