Freedom of Expression by Mohammad Saba’aneh
The arbitrary arrest of Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh has set off sparks from all corners of the international community. Saba’aneh was detained without charge by the Israeli military on Saturday Feb. 16 at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint between the occupied West Bank and Jordan. An Israeli military court extended his detention Wednesday for nine days under the pretext of completing an investigation. He has been denied access to a lawyer.
Mohammad Saba’aneh (photo:al-Hayat al-Jadida)
According to al-Hayat al-Jadida, Saba’aneh is being investigated for providing services to unspecified “hostile organizations,” without disclosing the nature of the services, or the identity of the organizations.
In other words, Israel has just captured another young, talented, charismatic, popular, Palestinian artist with no explanation:
Mohammad Saba’aneh (al-Hayat al-Jadida)
The international response to Saba’aneh detainment has been swift.
Dreaming of Freedom by Mohammad Saba’aneh
The Cartoon Movement, a global cartoonist collective, Cartoonists Rights Network International, and Reporters Without Borders have all sounded the alarm. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide, called on authorities to immediately release Saba’aneh and allow him access to his lawyer.
Below is a 2010 photo of Mohammed in front of the White house. He attended the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), part of International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department:
Mohammad Saba’aneh visiting Washington, DC in 2010 at invitation of U.S. State Department (Photo: Cartoonists Rights International)
Thaer Saba’aneh, a specialist in prisoners’ affairs and brother of the detainee, stated the arrest came as a surprise as Mohammad has never before been detained by the IDF. Mohammad was on his way back home from a conference at the AAU.
The Cartoon Movement and the Cartoonists Rights Network International are working together to find out the reason behind the arrest and to support the cartoonist. At the time of the writing of this alert, we are unable to ascertain the well-being of Mohammad.
Tjeerd Royaards the Editor-in-Chief of The Cartoon Movement drafted this alert which is being forwarded to human rights organizations and government officials. On behalf of our two organizations, CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell has written the following to Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States:
[A]ttacks against journalists comes in the framework of a programmed policy adopted by the leadership of the occupation army designed to target journalists and news crews and the continued harassment of them to restrict their right of movement.
(Hat tip Mondoweiss Commenter Taxi)