Israel frees Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq

Mohammed al-Qeeq spent 94 days on hunger strike before reaching deal with Israeli officials in February for his release.

    Israel frees Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq
    Some say Qeeq, who was freed in the West Bank, was persecuted for his opinion [EPA]

    Israel has released a Palestinian activist and journalist who spent three months on hunger strike after being held without trial or charge since November.

    Mohammed al-Qeeq, 33, went on hunger strike for 94 days in protest against his treatment by Israeli authorities, before reaching a deal with Israel in February securing his release.

    Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Ramallah, said Qeeq now had a stronger physical appearance and was walking unaided after his release.

    "At one point his wife was saying he was close to death [...] Since then, his health has been recovering," he said.

    "He spoke of having secured a victory through his hunger strike, and talked of the fragility that his release showed in the Israeli occupation."

    Four days after he was arrested on November 21, 2015, Qeeq decided to begin his strike.

    He demanded the Israeli military either charge or release him from the military detention centre where he was being held.

    Israel had accused Qeeq of inciting violence and having links to Hamas, the Palestinian faction which rules the GazaStrip.

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    However, any intelligence supporting the accusations is classified, and the allegations were never put forward in the form of criminal charges.

    Palestinians argue that he was persecuted for expressing his opinion.

    Qeeq worked as a news reporter for the Saudi-owned TV network Al Majd.

    Until his release on Thursday, he was one of 750 Palestinians - including five journalists - being held in Israeli prisons under administrative detention.

    The controversial policy permits Palestinians to be held for renewable six-month periods without charge or trial for an indefinite period.

    READ MORE: Palestinian hunger strikes - 'My husband is dying'

    Qeeq had previously been jailed on three occasions for alleged activities linking him to Hamas.

    In 2003, he spent a month in prison and the following year was jailed for 13 months.

    In 2008, Qeeq was jailed for 16 months on charges relating to his activities on the student council at Birzeit University.

    At least 70 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are on hunger strike.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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