A Palestinian journalist has been locked up for personally calling President Mahmoud Abbas at his home to complain about being fired from his state TV job.
Hassan al-Najjar, 33, a news director at the Palestine TV studios in the city of Ramallah, was given a sympathetic hearing by the president who asked to contact one of his assistants to arrange a meeting – but when he did so he found security forces waiting for him and he was arrested.
He is reportedly being held in custody since calling the Palestinian president’s home over three weeks ago.
His father Thabet told The Jerusalem Post: “My son has been in prison for over 25 days. This is real injustice. What crime did he commit?”
The father added that his son called the president of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, 85, on his private home number to complain about his “arbitrary dismissal” from his TV position.
Thabet said: “My son worked for Palestine TV for nine years. About four years ago, a dispute broke out between him and Ahmed Assaf, the director-general of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Assaf accused my son of bad-mouthing him and punished him by relocating him to the Palestine TV offices in Kalkilya.
“Assaf and some of his associates have also filed defamation lawsuits against my son to get rid of him.”
During the phone call, Najjar reportedly asked the president to help him seek justice for his dismissal.
The president listened to his complaint, asked for extra details, and then suggested that he contact his office head Saeed Lahham to arrange a meeting, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The report said that Najjar organised a meeting with the head of the president’s office for the next day, but was arrested at the presidential complex in Ramallah by security officers who transported him to a nearby prison.
An unnamed journalist from Ramallah said that media outlets in Palestine have refused to report on the arrest out of fear of also being detained.
A security source confirmed that Najjar is being held on charges of insulting senior officials in the past, but refused to say whether the arrested was linked to his phone call to the president’s home.