Palestinian journalist released after 10 months in Israel jail

Palestinian journalists hold placards during a demonstration on April 24, 2016, outside the Red Cross offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in support of their colleague, Omar Nazzal, who was detained the previous day by Israeli forces (AFP Photo/Abbas MOMANI)

Jerusalem (AFP) - A senior Palestinian journalist has been released after 10 months in an Israeli jail without charge, he told AFP on Tuesday.

Omar Nazzal, 55, was released on Monday after nearly a year in prison and following 13 hearings in an Israeli military court, he said.

Despite that, he added, he never received specific allegations, only a "general accusation" that he was threatening "regional security".

"When my lawyer asked for details, he got only rejections from judges and military prosecutors," Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, told AFP.

He was arrested on April 23 at the border between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan, from where he had been due to fly to a European Federation of Journalists gathering in Bosnia.

Nazzal, a former employee at the Palestine Today newspaper, was detained under Israel's controversial administrative detention laws, which allow suspects to be interned for indefinite periods without charge on evidence often not given to their lawyers.

The Palestinians have labelled his arrest an attack on press freedom and several international organisations have called for his release.

Israel insists that Nazzal was detained for "his involvement in terror group activities", not "because of his activity as a journalist".

He is accused of being in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist party banned by Israel.

The United Nations frequently calls on Israel to either charge or release those held under administrative detention, who number 530, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, around 20 journalists or journalism students are held by Israel, one of them for more than 20 years.

Mohammed al-Qiq, a journalist with Saudi television channel Al-Majd, has been on hunger strike for 16 days, his supporters said.

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