Palestinian Authority frees jailed activist

Hebron-based human rights activist Issa Amro released following detention by PA under new 'electronic crimes' law.

    Issa Amro is welcomed by supporters after being released on bail by a Palestinian court [Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images]
    Issa Amro is welcomed by supporters after being released on bail by a Palestinian court [Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images]

    The Palestinian Authority released a leading human rights activist on Sunday, a week after he was detained for criticising the government's controversial "electronic crimes" law.

    Issa Amro, director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, was arrested on September 4 after denouncing on Facebook the arrest of a journalist calling for the resignation of PA head, Mahmoud Abbas.

    Abbas has come under scrutiny for the vaguely worded decree, which allows security forces to jail those deemed to be harming "national unity" or the "social fabric" online.

    Critics say the law, rolled out without consultation in July, is a restriction on freedom of expression.

    Speaking after his release, Amro accused Palestinian security forces of physical and verbal abuse during his imprisonment.

    "They want to silence me and silence every voice defending human rights, but they are wrong. I will continue defending human rights and struggling against occupation," he said.

    READ MORE: Rights groups question Palestine's electronic crime law

    Human rights groups have expressed concern over the increasing number of journalists being detained by the PA in the West Bank, with Amnesty International calling Amro's arrest a "shameless attack on freedom of expression".

    Amro, 35, was released on $1,400 bail, according to his lawyer. Amro, who advocates non-violence and protests against Israeli settlements in his hometown of Hebron, also faces charges in an Israeli military court. His trial is set to resume in October.

    Palestinian officials have offered no comment on the case.

    UPFRONT REALITY CHECK: Is the PA helping or hurting the Palestinians? 

    SOURCE: News agencies


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