FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Palestinian human rights activist released on bail; Continues to face charges by PA under repressive new cybercrimes law
September 10, 2017, Hebron, occupied Palestine - Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was released today from detention by the Palestinian Authority on $1,400 bail. Issa had been arrested September 4, 2017 by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi.
Issa spoke about how his arrest and detention by the Palestinian Authority will not change his will to continue working as a human rights defender, “I’ll continue fighting the occupation, fighting the settlements, and defending Palestinian rights in Palestine and outside Palestine. The main enemy of the Palestinian people is the occupation and the settlements. We will continue resisting peacefully until we get our freedom, justice and equality.”
Issa also spoke about the Palestinian Authority’s new Electronic Crimes law under which he is being charged. “I hope that we as Palestinians manage to change the new law, which is oppressing the freedom of expression of the Palestinian people inside Palestine. I ask our President Mahmoud Abbas to stop the law and change it to respect the freedom of speech of all Palestinians.”
Issa continues to face charges by the Palestinian Authority under a new law issued by the PA, that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army. Members of US Congress have called on President Abbas to drop the charges against Issa. Amnesty International and other human rights groups condemned his arrest.
Issa is currently facing 18 charges in Israeli military court for his nonviolent work against Israel’s occupation and theft of Palestinian land for illegal settlements. In June 2017, 32 members of Congress signed a letter calling on the US to encourage Israel to reconsider the charges against Issa. Senators Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy also sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging the same. Human rights groups like Amnesty International have also condemned Israel’s charges against Issa, with Amnesty stating that if he’s convicted they will declare him a prisoner of conscience.
Issa has been recognized around the world for his leadership of nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation. In 2010 the UN declared him human rights defender of the year for Palestine. In 2013 the European Union designated Issa as a Human Rights Defender. Issa’s status with the EU was reaffirmed in 2016. Issa’s case in Israeli military court was included in a US Department of State report on human rights in 2016. In June 2017, 38 members of congress wrote letters calling on the US to encourage Israel to reconsider the charges against Issa. Issa is expected to arrive in the US to give public talks at the end of September, 2017.