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Israel accuses Al Jazeera journalist of Hamas membership

The Palestinian journalist appeared before an Israeli military court today.

Wajeeha Allawi, 76, mother of Al-Jazeera reporter Samer Allawi poses with a photo of her son today.
Wajeeha Allawi, 76, mother of Al-Jazeera reporter Samer Allawi poses with a photo of her son today.
Image: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas

ISRAELI MILITARY prosecutors have accused a senior Palestinian journalist with the Arabic language Al Jazeera satellite network of being a member of Hamas. He denies the accusation.

Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Afghanistan, was brought before an Israeli military court today, a week after soldiers detained him along the West Bank border with Jordan as he tried to return to Afghanistan for work, his lawyer said.

At court today, prosecutors said they suspect Allawi of belonging to Hamas, which Israel, the US and EU have labelled a terror group for conducting attacks, including suicide bombings, that have killed civilians.

Allawi’s lawyer, Salim Wakim, said his client has not yet been formally indicted and that the court extended his detention for an additional week while Israeli agents continue to investigate.

Wakim said Israeli investigators tried to pressure Allawi to act as an informant and told him that if he refused he would be imprisoned.

He said they then accused Allawi of transferring unspecified items from Afghanistan to the West Bank and of having contact with Hamas militants.

West Bank visit

Allawi was in the West Bank spending an annual vacation with his family in his native village of Sebastia near Nablus, his lawyer said. Allawi had entered the West Bank at the same crossing without incident about a month earlier, said Wakim.

Video footage filmed by Al Jazeera at the military court showed Allawi wearing an olive green prison uniform and speaking to his lawyer. Under Israeli procedures, Palestinian nationals in the West Bank are tried in military courts.

Al Jazeera’s brief footage showed Allawi telling Wakim that his arrest was baseless.

“All of their accusations have no connection to my work with Al Jazeera. It’s an arbitrary arrest. They are trying to search for information to implicate me or Al Jazeera,” said Allawi in the footage taken at the military court just before soldiers instructed the crew to stop filming.

Questioned

Wakim said Israeli agents questioned Allawi about his work, finances, personal relationships dating back to his schooldays in the West Bank and was asked whether he has had any contact with US, Jordanian or Palestinian intelligence forces, according to an Al Jazeera statement issued Monday. Investigators also took his password for his personal and work emails, the statement added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group, called on Israel to clarify the legal basis for holding Allawi, saying he was detained without charges.

“Our concern for Allawi’s well-being and his legal rights is amplified with every passing day that he is held without due process,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East director of the group.

About the author:

Associated Press

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