Palestinian Authority police Tuesday closed down two television and radio stations in Ramallah, apparently for broadcasting criticism of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, reported Iran News Agency (IRNA).
Palestinian sources were quoted as saying that agents from the PA Criminal Investigation Squad (SIS) raided the studios of 'Radio al Manara' and 'al-Naser Television' in downtown Ramallah, ordering their managers to shut them down.
Ammar Ammar, manager of Radio al Manara, said the SIS agents neither refused to produce a written closure order nor gave any reasons for the closure.
“They told us they only were carrying out orders,” said Ammar.
He added he didn't exactly know why his radio station was closed.
However, Israeli state-run radio quoted an unnamed PA official as stating that the reason for the closure of the two outlets had to do with allowing criticism of the Palestinian leadership, added IRNA.
On Sunday, Radio al Manara broadcast a talk-in show during which callers criticized Arafat for saying during a television interview last week that the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon was precipitated by Israel's desire for peace and had nothing to do with Hizbullah's resistance.
“There was nothing wrong with the phone-in show, people were allowed to express their views freely within the confines of decency and politeness,” Ammar was quoted as saying.
“The closure is a flagrant violation of press freedom and is totally incompatible with the rule of law.”
Palestinian observers point out that the PA has of late stepped up repressive measures against political dissent and freedom of expression, added IRNA – Albawaba.com
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