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Israeli forces arrest human rights researcher

01:00 Oct 15 2012 Saffa

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RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces arrested a researcher from Addameer human rights organization overnight Sunday, the group said.

Ayman Nasser, 42, was arrested at 1 a.m. from his home in the village of Saffa, west of Ramallah. The group is not aware of the reason for his arrest and has not yet managed to contact Nasser or arrange a visit.

A large number of soldiers ransacked Nasser's family home and confiscated his mobile phone and parts of his computer, his wife told Addameer.

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By Mya Guarnieri for +972

At 1:00 a.m. Monday morning, Israeli forces entered ‘autonomous’ Area A and arrested Ayman Nasser, a researcher at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Two soldiers held Nasser’s wife at gunpoint while other soldiers searched the house the couple shares with their four children, who range in age from three to 13.

Nasser is currently being held at a detention facility in Jerusalem. Addameer says that the his arrest represents Israel’s “latest attempt… to target not only Addameer as an organization advocating for Palestinian prisoner’s rights but also the targeting of Palestinian civil society in general.”

Since 1991, Nasser has spent six years in Israeli prisons.

Addameer has been instrumental in publicizing the conditions Palestinian political prisoners face in Israeli jails. Many of these prisoners are in administrative detention without trial. While international law permits administrative detention under very specific circumstances, the Israeli NGO B’Tselem points out that:

According to international law, administrative detention can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means.

Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates these restrictions. It is carried out under the thick cover of privilege, which denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinian for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence, making a mockery of the protections specified in Israeli and international law to protect the right to liberty and due process, the right of defendants to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.

A number of Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strikes to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention; the hunger strikes have generated international media attention, shining a light on Israel’s questionable treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Addameer offers legal council to prisoners, monitors conditions, and advocates for prisoners. The organization says that it is under increasing pressure from the Israeli authorities.

Ayman’s arrest comes not long after Addameer Chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith was banned from entering the West Bank and from travelling abroad. In, addition, numerous Addameer staff members have been banned from travelling freely within the OPT and abroad, which has had significant implications on the ability of Addameer to carry out it work in support of Palestinian prisoners and their families.

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HRW: Israel must stop harassing Addameer staff

10/26/2012 BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Israel to stop harassing members of prisoner rights group Addameer.

"It’s deeply ironic that Israel is arbitrarily detaining a researcher who has documented arbitrary detention, and violating the rights of the head of a human rights group," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW regional director.

On Oct. 15, Israel arrested Addameer's researcher Ayman Nasser in a night raid on his home in Saffa, near Ramallah.

Nasser told his lawyer he had been interrogated over media interviews he gave, and his work with a youth center in his village. Addameer says the Handala center holds educational and artistic events in Saffa.

The researcher told an Israeli military court on Saturday that he had been blindfolded and shackled during interrogation sessions up to 10 hours long, and that Israeli officials had not allowed him to receive three of five medicines he needs.

Addameer has expressed particular concern about Nasser's health, noting that until his arrest he was receiving constant medical treatment by specialized doctors for health issues including an inflamed colon and back pain. When not being interrogated, Nasser is being held in isolation, Addameer says.

Nasser told the military court that "every human being has opinions and positions and if it's not violating the law he can freely think and speak these opinions.

"I am a human rights defender who supports the Palestinian prisoners and I represent my opinions in the public media. My thoughts are not secret, they are public, and everyone knows them."

Nasser has not been charged with any crime or allowed to see any evidence against him. His detention was renewed on Wednesday for another nine days.

Meanwhile, Israel has banned Addameer's chairman Abdullatif Ghaith, 71, from traveling abroad since August. Israel's military has also banned him from entering the West Bank, where Addameer's offices are located, from East Jerusalem, where he lives, since October 2011.

"The refusal of the Israeli authorities to make public any evidence to substantiate the reasons for the travel ban against Ghaith means that he has been denied a meaningful opportunity to challenge the ban in court," HRW said in a statement.

"Israel should provide valid justifications for its measures against Nasser and Ghaith or drop those measures immediately," the US-based group added.
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