Second Palestinian activist freed by Israel

Amnesty International has welcomed the release from detention of Palestinian human rights activist Mohammed Othman – but is concerned that the Israeli authorities have imposed conditions which will prevent him exercising his human rights.

Mohammed Othman was arrested on 22 September 2009 when he returned from a visit to Norway where he spoke publicly about the adverse impact of the fence/wall that Israel is building on the territory of the occupied West Bank.

He was held without charge under an administrative detention order until his release on Wednesday after laying down a guarantee of 10,000 Israeli shekels (around US$2,700).

He is the second activist to be released by the Israeli authorities this week.

However, his liberty is conditional on him not travelling outside the West Bank for an unspecified length of time and reporting to the police immediately whenever they  summon him for questioning.

“The conditions applied to Mohammed Othman’s release from detention appear intended to prevent or deter him from continuing to campaign against the construction of the fence/wall in the West Bank and exposing the impact it has on the lives of Palestinians living there,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

“These conditions should be immediately rescinded.”

Mohammed Othman’s release follows that of Jamal Juma’, who was freed without conditions on Tuesday. A third human rights activist, Abdallah Abu Rahma, remains in detention.

Jamal Juma’, Mohammed Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahma have been campaigning against the West Bank fence/wall for years by raising awareness about its negative impact on Palestinians, organizing grassroots opposition and peacefully demonstrating against its construction.

The three have repeatedly expressed their commitment to the principle of non-violence and Amnesty International is unaware of any credible evidence that they have used or advocated violence.

Amnesty International continues to be concerned that Abdallah Abu Rahma is being detained solely on account of legitimately exercising his right to freedom of expression in opposing the Israeli fence/wall.

If this is the case, he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally. Otherwise he should be brought to trial on recognizable criminal charges and in full conformity with international fair trial standards.

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