A Palestinian woman accused of defaming the president on her Facebook page has been detained for two weeks while an investigation is carried out, activists said, in what they say is a growing crackdown on writers who criticize the government.
Palestinian security forces arrested Ismat Abdul-Khaleq, a West Bank university lecturer, last Wednesday after they read a quote on her Facebook page accusing President Mahmoud Abbas of being a traitor and demanding he resigns, said lawyer Issam Abdeen of the Palestinian rights group al-Haq.
Abdul-Khaleq’s detention is the latest in what activists say is the Palestinian authorities’ increasing intolerance of criticism.
“We are genuinely concerned about tightening limits on freedom of expression and on the media,” Abdeen said. “We don’t want reporters to second-guess whether they will be punished or not when they write.”
Abdeen said the Palestinian public persecutor’s office was particularly harsh in ordering the prolonged detention of those accused of defamation. Abdul-Khaleq is a single mother of two children.
Defaming the president and other high-level officials is a crime for the Palestinian Authority.
“These expressions go beyond freedom of expression,” said public prosecutor Ahmed al-Mughani.
“Abdul-Khaleq is also accused of calling Abbas a traitor and saying he partied with prostitutes on the graves of slain Palestinians”, Abdeen said, but she denied it.