Palestinian Authority keeps media under its thumb

Vivian Bercovici writes: Palestinian Facebook pranksters are doing prison time for lampooning Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas online.

At the end of March, a West Bank appeal court upheld a one-year sentence for a man alleged to have defamed Abbas by posting his photo online next to that of a TV villain who had collaborated with French colonial rule.

The Times of Israel reported that the convicted man denied posting the photos. Furthermore, he claimed to have been detained without legal counsel for 20 days and interrogated for 53. Following his lost appeal, Abbas pardoned the man, a small gesture after he’d been churned in the justice system for two years.

The previous month, a 26-year-old PA resident was sentenced to a year in prison for posting a photograph of Abbas kicking a soccer ball with a silly caption: “Real Madrid’s New Striker.”

The charge against him? “Extending [his] tongue” against the king; defamation, more colloquially. “King Abbas,” it seems, invoked a Jordanian law from the early 1960s that was intended, according to David Keyes, executive director of the New York-based NGO Advancing Human Rights, to punish critics of Jordan’s monarchy when it ruled the West Bank. [Continue reading…]

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