Hamas targets Palestinian investigative reporter

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Palestinian journalist Mohamed Othman’s persecution by the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip. Othman, whose investigative reporting is often critical of Hamas, was arrested by Hamas security officials on 1 September and was held for nearly 24 hours.

Aged 29 and a specialist in investigating corruption-related stories, Othman reports for the pan-Arab TV channel Al Araby Al Jadeed and the US news website Al Monitor. He is also the SKeyes Centre’s Gaza correspondent.

The reason for his arrest by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, were not specified but his interrogation focused on his journalistic work. He was released on 2 September on condition that he report to the Bureau for Internal Security on 11 September.

We condemn the harassment of Mohammed Othman, whose investigative reporting in the Gaza Strip bothers the Hamas authorities,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.

We urge Hamas to stop this intimidation at once. The Palestinian authorities must not step up their pressure on independent and critical journalists because of the approaching municipal elections, which are to be held in October.”

The SKeyes Centre quoted Othman’s wife as saying he was tortured during his interrogation although no direct accusation was made against him. According to the local media, he was arrested because of a document he posted on his Facebook page and used as the basis for a story about corruption within the Gaza Strip’s Endowments ministry.

The source of this document was also arrested after being identified as a result of Othman’s interrogation. Othman’s computer and his and his wife’s mobile phones, which had been confiscated, were returned after his release.

The Palestinian Territories are ranked 132nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press FreedomIndex.