Scribe jailed for targeting Abbas on facebook

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Scribe jailed for targeting Abbas on facebook

RAMALLAH — A West Bank appeals court on Thursday upheld a one-year prison term for a Palestinian journalist who had a photo on his Facebook page that authorities claimed portrayed President Mahmoud Abbas as a traitor, rights activists said.

By (AP)

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Published: Fri 29 Mar 2013, 9:22 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:53 PM

It was the second such case in two months, and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is facing mounting criticism for stifling dissent. In particular, Abbas’ security forces have targeted supporters of the Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip from him in 2007.

The defendant in Thursday’s case was Mamdouh Hamamreh, a reporter for the Hamas-linked Al Quds TV.

Nimer Hamad, an adviser to Abbas, said the Palestinian president would pardon Hamamreh, but declined further comment.

Prosecutors have alleged that a photo montage on his Facebook page back in 2010 showed Abbas next to a villain in a TV drama about French colonial rule in the Levant. The villain was an informer for the French and the photo caption read: “They’re alike.”

Hamamreh denied that he was the one who posted the photo, but last year a court sentenced him to a year in prison. An appeals court upheld the sentence on Thursday, said Issam Abdeen of the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq.

In February, a Palestinian court sentenced university student Anas Awwad, 26, to a year in jail for “cursing the president” on Facebook. The Palestinian judiciary applies a Jordanian law that criminalises cursing the king.

Awwad’s father said at the time that his son was being punished for what appeared to be a humorous caption under a picture showing Abbas kicking a soccer ball. An appeals court overturned Awwad’s sentence earlier this month and ordered a new trial, Abdeen said. Several other Palestinians face similar charges, he said.

Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, which administers 38 per cent of the West Bank, have come under fire repeatedly for squashing dissent. Hamas, which rules Gaza, has faced similar accusations.

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