- JENIN, West Bank (Reuters)
- The Israeli army on Saturday blindfolded and took away for questioning
a Palestinian news photographer working for Reuters near the West Bank
city of Jenin.
- Mahfouz Abu Turk, 52, was with a Reuters news crew returning
from a tour of Jenin's devastated refugee camp when troops detained him
at a checkpoint just north of the city.
Soldiers checked the documents of the three journalists, questioned them
and searched their bags before taking Abu Turk aside. They put him under
guard between two armored personnel carriers to await further questioning.
After a short period, he was blindfolded and taken away in an armored personnel
carrier to an army camp across the "Green Line" boundary in Israel
some six miles north of Jenin.
Rami Mardor, an assistant to the army's chief spokesman, told Reuters by
telephone: "According to the number on his ID card, he is someone
who has to be checked. He has to be detained in order to be questioned."
He declined to elaborate but said Abu Turk's case would be expedited.
Reuters responded with a letter of protest to the army.
"Reuters is gravely concerned about the detention today of one of
our photographers ... and demands that the (Israeli Defense Forces) release
him immediately or make clear what, if any, charges or allegations there
may be against him," wrote Anthony Williams, news editor for Europe,
the Middle East and Africa.
The Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association called for similar steps,
saying it was needed to avoid "the appearance that Palestinian journalists
are being targeted for questioning and arrest."
Abu Turk has worked for Reuters for several years, covering news in Israel
and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops pulled out of Jenin and the refugee camp on Friday, but
remain deployed around the city.
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