Affidavit No. 5858/2010

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Akram Sa’d As’ad Natsha, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 905128732, born on 12 June 1979, a journalist, and a resident of Ras al-Jora neighbourhood, Hebron city, Hebron governorate, would like to declare the following:

I work as a correspondent at al-Quds TV Satellite Channel, which has been broadcasting from Lebanon for about two years. The satellite channel is owned by a private shareholding company which is registered in London. I also work as a lecturer at the Palestine Polytechnic University on a part time basis. I am a father of two children, aged three and two years. I am not affiliated with any political faction and have never been to prison. al-Quds TV Satellite Channel operates in the West Bank through PAL Media Company and has seven correspondents throughout the West Bank.

At around 1:30 pm on Tuesday 21 December 2010, when I was at work at the PAL Media Company Office in al-Maha Building on the New Wadi al-Tuffah Street in Hebron city, about 15 Palestinian Intelligence agency officers unexpectedly came to the office. They presented an order issued by officer Kheiri Shahin of the Palestinian civil prosecution to search, arrest and seize assets of the office. They prevented me from using the telephone. They took my laptop, which belonged to PAL Media Company, as well as a camera, two cellular telephones, and my two flash memories. In addition, they seized a large number of video-tapes, documents and
other objects. Neither me nor any of my colleagues in the office were given a receipt for the objects that were confiscated. The officers also raided my colleague’s room, Mamdouh Hamamra, and confiscated his laptop, his cellular telephone and other documents and objects.

About 15 minutes later, the officers led me into a Ford car and took me to the General Intelligence headquarters in Hebron city. They did not handcuff me. It took about ten minutes to get to the headquarters. I was put in a waiting room, where I waited for about 30 minutes. I was then forced to wait in a corridor near the interrogation cells. After about 20 minutes, someone arrived and introduced himself to me as “Abu-Fathi.” He said he was the Interrogation Director.

He then left. During that time people in military uniforms walked passed and shouted and cursed at me. They demanded that I sit upright in my chair. One of them shouted at me a lot. He prohibited me from sitting in my chair comfortably or from turning around to look at the intelligence officers. He forced me to look at the wall opposite me. I felt very nervous because I was not used to such practices.

Abu-Fathi arrived and said he would force me to confess. He told me he knew 100 methods that would push me into committing suicide if I did not confess. I did not know what they wanted me to confess to. I asked to perform afternoon prayers which they allowed. I continued to sit in the corridor until around 5:00 pm.

I was suffering from the flu. Therefore they took me to the Military Medical Services offices in ‘Ein Sara area in Hebron city. The doctor examined me and prescribed me medication, which was never given to me. At around 6:00 pm, I was taken back to the Intelligence headquarters. I had dinner, which was an egg and half a boiled potato, in the corridor and I slept from exhaustion for about one hour on the floor, on a blanket that was given to me by a man who was detained next to me.

At around 9:00 pm I was taken out to a large open yard in the interrogation section of the headquarters. I was blindfolded and forced to stand next to the wall. Almost ten people were being held in the same yard. There were elderly men sat on chairs with their eyes blindfolded and their faces turned to the wall. An Intelligence officer watched the detainees. He shouted and cursed at those who did not stand or sit the way he liked, and at those who tried to talk to one another. My health deteriorated and I felt cold and more exhausted. The temperature in the yard was almost zero degree Celsius.

About an hour and a half later, they took me to an interrogation cell. About two minutes after I had been forced into the cell I collapsed onto the interrogation table. They took me again to the Military Medical Services offices in the ‘Ein Sara area, where the doctor gave me a tranquiliser.

About 15 minutes later, I was taken back to the Intelligence headquarters. They put me back in the corridor. I sat on a chair with my eyes blindfolded. I slept until they put me back into a cell, where another detainee was being held. The cell measured about four metres and did not have a toilet. There were two mattresses in the cell and blankets enough for two persons. During the detention period, I asked several times why I was being detained but no one answered me. I asked that I be able to inform my family that I was being detained but I was told I could do so later. I slept for about two hours in the cell. At midnight, they summonsed me to interrogation. Abu-Fathi questioned me about al-Quds TV Satellite Channel, its organisational  structure, and my work there. He also asked about how relatives of detainees that were on hunger strike in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons are identified and have interviews conducted with them. I told him that interviews are coordinated through the main office in Beirut. He tried to force me to confess to coordinating those interviews myself. He focused on an interview that had taken place with Majdi ’Beid’s mother the same day I was arrested. ‘Beid was detained in a PA prison and had announced he was going on a hunger strike.

The interrogation session lasted for more than half an hour. The interrogator talked to me with disgust and irritation. He offered me a cup of tea and said that drinking a cup of tea there might take two months, by which I understood him to be threatening me that he could keep me in prison for two months. After the interrogation ended, I was taken back to the cell where I slept until the morning.

At around 10:00 am the next morning, I was interrogated a second time, and an interrogator took my statement. At around 1:00 pm, I was taken to the Hebron Magistrates’ Court. In accordance with the Jordanian Penal Law No. 195 of 1960, I was charged with arousing sectarian tension. I was released on bail, set at 500 Jordanian Dinars, which a journalist called Jihad al-Qawasmi, who is a representative of the Palestinian Union of Journalists, guaranteed.

My personal belongings were returned to me. However, the other objects, which had been seized from the office were only given back a week after my release from detention. My colleague Mamdouh Hamamra, who works for the same channel as me and was at the office at the time of the raid, was also taken to the Intelligence headquarters. He was subjected to similar practices as those I was subjected to, and was released under the same conditions.

None of the reports I produce contradict the Palestinian Law on Printed Materials and Publications of 2000. As a result of what has happened to me, I am seriously thinking that I should stop working as a journalist and look for another job.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 5858/2010
  • Field researcher: Hisham Sharabati
  • Affidavit Date: 30 December 2010
  • Name: Akram Sa’d As’ad Natsha