Palestinian court extends detention of rights activist
HEBRON - A Palestinian court extended for four days Thursday the detention of a prominent rights activist who criticised president Mahmud Abbas's administration, his lawyer said.
Issa Amro was detained on Monday by Palestinian security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on accusations of causing strife, among other charges, rights activists say.
A closed court in Hebron Thursday extended his detention for four more days, Amro's lawyer Muhannad Karaja said after the session.
"We are surprised by this decision. We were expecting he would be freed today because Issa is a well-known activist," Karaja said.
Media, diplomats and supporters of Amro were turned away at the court, a journalist at the scene said.
Amro is the founder of Youth Against Settlements, a campaign group in the tense city of Hebron where Jewish settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the centre.
He was detained after criticising the Palestinian Authority's arrest of a journalist from Hebron on social media at the weekend.
Palestinian officials have not publicly commented on Amro's detention and attempts to reach the police were unsuccessful.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both criticised the arrest.
"It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticising the authorities should not be a criminal offence," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East.
She said Amro's detention was the "latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech."
Separate to the Palestinian arrest, Amro is currently on trial by Israel on a range of charges dating back to 2010.
He has rejected all the charges, saying they are politically motivated to prevent his peaceful resistance to Israel's occupation.