Hamas police arrested British journalist Paul Martin on Sunday, accusing him of security offenses. “We have confessions that the British journalist committed offenses against Palestinian law, and that harms the security of the country,” Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain said, without giving details on who had confessed and under what circumstances.
Martin was arrested at a Gaza courthouse where he was scheduled to testify on behalf of a defendant accused of collaborating with Israel. According to Ghsain, Gaza’s attorney general ordered Martin detained for 15 days of questioning after the Palestinian defendant, Mohammed Abu Muaileq, made a confession that implicated Mr. Martin in having “violated Palestinian law and security in Gaza.”
A Palestinian who spoke to Martin before his arrest said the journalist hoped to testify at the trial “in order to clear himself and try to help Mohammed.” According to the source, Hamas officials found incriminating email correspondence between Martin, Abu Muaileq and an Israeli. Abu Muaileq and the Israeli, both computer experts, have worked together on a website, according to the source. Collaborating with an Israeli is punishable by death under Palestinian law.
The Foreign Press Association issued a statement requesting that Hamas release the journalist and “to respect the rights of every journalist on assignment, to work without fear of being arrested.” While this is certainly ideal, it may not be realistic. Indeed, Hamas’s actions are not surprising. As Jonathan Schanzer explained, Hamas governs Gaza “through a combination of violence, authoritarianism, and Islamism.” In fact, “Some 1,000 people, almost all members of Fatah and the PA, were illegally arrested in the first months of Hamas rule” and Hamas officials “admitted to the use of torture and violence against Hamas’s political enemies.”