Journalists’ rights groups call for cartoonist’s release

Israel accused of silencing dissent after Al-Hayat al-Jadida’s Mohammad Saba’aneh detained

Mohammed Saba'aneh (Courtesy via Facebook)
Mohammed Saba'aneh (Courtesy via Facebook)

Two international journalists’ rights groups called on Israel Thursday to charge or release a Palestinian cartoonist arrested last week.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders said Israel had detained Al-Hayat al-Jadida cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh “arbitrarily” when forces arrested him at the Allenby bridge border crossing from Jordan on Saturday

The New York-based CPJ also accused Israel of using administrative detention, under which it can hold detainees without charging them, to silence Palestinian dissent.

Mohammed Saba'aneh (Courtesy via Facebook)
Mohammed Saba’aneh (Courtesy via Facebook)

Saba’aneh, a Palestinian who was visiting Amman, was arrested while crossing from Jordan into Israel on February 16 for providing information to hostile organizations, according to Ramallah-based Al-Hayat.

On Thursday, his remand in prison was extended for another nine days.

Saba’aneh’s cartoons are seen as critical of Israeli policies in the West Bank. One published last week depicted a Palestinian in Israeli jail ripping his heart out to throw over the prison wall.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, accused Israel of using arrests to hush critical journalists. 

“Israel has a history of using administrative detention to silence critical reporting. This flies in the face of international law,” Mansour said, according to CPJ release. “The Israeli authorities must explain why they have used such an overbroad security statute against political cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh.”

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