Israel Detains Al Jazeera's Kabul Bureau Chief in West Bank

IDF arrests Samer Allawi, a senior Palestinian journalist at Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, at a border crossing in West Bank last week; Allawi brought before a military court on Tuesday.

A senior Palestinian journalist with the Arabic language Al Jazeera satellite network was brought before an Israeli military court Tuesday, nearly a week after soldiers arrested him at a border crossing in the West Bank.

Video footage filmed by Al Jazeera at the military court showed Samer Allawi, the station's bureau chief in Afghanistan, wearing an olive green prison uniform and speaking to his lawyer. Under Israeli procedures, Palestinian nationals in the West Bank are tried in military courts.


According to Al Jazeera, Israel is charging Allawi with belonging to Hamas.

A spokeswoman for the Shin Bet internal security service refused to release any details about why Allawi was detained, saying nothing would be made public until the investigation was complete.

Al Jazeera said Allawi was detained Aug. 10 along the West Bank border with Jordan as he tried to leave to return to Afghanistan. The broadcaster said Allawi was in the West Bank spending his annual vacation with his family in his native village of Sebastia, near Nablus.

Speaking briefly to Al Jazeera, Allawi said his arrest was baseless.

"All of their accusations have no connection to my work with Al Jazeera. It's an arbitrary arrest. They are trying to search for information to implicate me or Al Jazeera," said Allawi in the footage taken at the military court just before soldiers instructed the crew to stop filming.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group, called on Israel to clarify the legal basis for holding Allawi, saying he was detained without charges.

"Our concern for Allawi's well-being and his legal rights is amplified with every passing day that he is held without due process," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East director of the group.

According to the group, Allawi was pressured to act as an informant and was told that if he refused he would be charged with transferring money from Afghanistan to the West Bank. The advocacy group said it received this information from Al Jazeera.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also said Israeli authorities informed Allawi's family that his detention was a "security-related arrest" and that he was being held for questioning.

Allawi's lawyer said his client was questioned about his work, finances, personal relationships dating back to his schooldays in the West Bank and was asked whether he has had any contact with U.S., Jordanian or Palestinian intelligence forces, according to an Al Jazeera statement issued Monday. Investigators also took his password for his personal and work emails, the statement added.

The journalists' advocacy group said it had learned from Al Jazeera that Allawi had entered the West Bank at the same crossing without incident three weeks earlier.