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Walid Hanatsheh: Palestinian Prisoner of Conscience

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Walid Hanatsheh: Palestinian Prisoner of Conscience

Hanatsheh should be honored, not imprisoned.

by Stephen Lendman

The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association calls Hanatsheh "a human rights defender who is currently in administrative detention."

As Health Work Committees (HWC) Finance and Administration Manager, he helped "provide necessary healthcare to over 500,000" Palestinians.

In 1994, he was detained, interrogated for 30 days, then released. In June 2002, he was arrested for being in Jerusalem "illegally." His wife's a Jerusalemite. Arrest for "illegal presence" became an administrative detention ordeal. At issue is his humanitarian activism and alleged connection to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). As a result, he was held for three and a half years.

Military commanders sign detentions. Military judges review them. Military court of appeals proceedings may follow. High Court of Justice ones may be requested. Up to six months can be ordered, subject to limitless extensions. 

After two years imprisoned, military judges had reservations. In October 2004, Hanatsheh's extension was upheld, subject to possible alternatives.

Nonetheless, in December 2004, another extension was approved. However, the judge ruled that barring extraordinary circumstances, further extensions weren't justified.

In March 2005, another judge said "there is room to seriously consider the release of the detainee from administrative detention. However....I am of the opinion that there is room to have the detainee remain in administrative detention for another short period of time."

He added that barring extraordinary developments, holding him longer wasn't justified. In May 2005, a new judge said old material against him didn't justify holding him longer than another month.

He ruled that only a "new" order containing new information or developments can justify doing so. As a result, after three and a half years in prison, Hanatsheh was released.

Nonetheless, the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) manufactured new information it called substantive. On review, a military judge ruled it "does point to details of actions thus far unknown, yet these are insufficient to substantively alter the existing intelligence picture."

"The new information does include details which illustrate the detainee's modus operandi during his incarceration, yet a review of preexisting information indicates that some of this activity had already been known, and the rest may be reasonably deduced from the detainee's status as a senior PFLP operative."

In fact, no evidence connects Hanatsheh with PFLP membership or involvement. Saying so isn't proof, or justification for targeting a legitimate nonviolent resistance group. It's founding document said:

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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