Al Jazeera’s Kabul bureau chief accused of being member of Hamas, network says

Dylan Stableford


Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau chief who was arrested by Israeli officials last week, has been charged with being a member of Hamas, Al Jazeera reports.

Allawi was brought before an Israeli military court on Tuesday, according to Al Jazeera, and authorities said he would continue to be held in state custody.

He was detained on August 10 while trying to cross the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Allawi, who holds a Jordanian passport, arrived in the West Bank three weeks ago to visit family, and was preparing to return to Afghanistan via Jordan when he was arrested.

According to the Arabic news network, Allawi's family had originally been told he would be held for four days for "security-related" questioning, and he was later accused of maintaining contact with Hamas' military wing.

Allawi's lawyer, Salim Waqim, who was hired by Al Jazeera, told the network that Allawi would be charged with transferring money from Afghanistan to the West Bank if he did not agree to become an informant. According to Al Jazeera, Allawi is refusing to cooperate.

"Israel must clarify why it continues to hold Samer Allawi," Mohamed Abdel Dayam, the coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists' Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement. "Our concern for Allawi's well-being and his legal rights is amplified with every passing day he is held without due process."

The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported "persistent violations ... including detentions, censorship, and physical attacks by Israeli soldiers" in the West Bank. In June 2010, Israeli officials edited and distributed video footage that was confiscated from journalists during a raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. Last year, the committee called for an end to the harassment of journalists in Israel.

It's also not the first time Al Jazeera has been accused by Israelis of supporting Hamas.

Hamas itself has been accused of trying to suppress journalists in the Gaza Strip.