NEW YORK—PEN America today called on the Israeli government to make public the basis for the arrest of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, who was detained earlier this week when crossing from Palestine into Jordan to attend an international meeting of the European Federation of Journalists. As PEN America understands, no charges have been brought against Nazzal, who has been held in administrative detention since the weekend.

“If authorities cannot present compelling grounds as the basis of charges for a recognized criminal offense, they must release Omar Nazzal immediately,” said Karin Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America. “Israel should put an end to its practice of imposing administrative detention and the disturbing pattern of escalating violations against Palestinian authors and journalists exercising their freedom of expression.”

PEN America also shares PEN International’s concerns about Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who is currently detained in Tel Aviv and on trial for alleged “incitement to violence,” reportedly based on posts to social media. In a similar case, TV journalist Muhammed al-Qiq was arrested in November 2015 and held without charge. In December, Qiq was transferred to HaEmek Hospital, where he will remain until May 21 recovering from a 94-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities in February to drop his detention.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression at home and abroad. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: +1 646-779-4830, [email protected]