Death threats were made against journalist, reports the New Statesman
From The New Statesman (prestigious left-wing British journal)
Freelance British journalist and documentary filmmaker freed in March after being jailed for a month in Gaza reveals that he was threatened with death and placed within earshot of violent torture.
Paul Martin is surrounded by journalists after his release, 11 March 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Martin used an article published on World Press Freedom Day on Monday to pledge to campaign for journalists held in jail saying that that he will not be “cowed” by threats from Hamas. He went to court to give evidence in support of Mohamed, a former Islamic militant who he had filmed denouncing rocket attacks on civilians.
Martin says he was told by the judge in the Gaza court: “You are not a witness, you are an accused”. Writing in The Guardian Martin notes that Hamas claims it welcomes foreigners and helped secure the release in 2007 of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston after four months being held by a rival militia. But he said that since then Hamas has locked up scores of journalists and closed down news operations.
Martin revealed that six Hamas interrogators accused him of being a spy for MI6 and possibly Mossad and threatened him with the death penalty. Ironically, Martin says that he has previously been threatened for being allegedly too pro-Palestinian in his work.
He said: “My exposure, for example, of the awful death of one 12-year-old boy in Gaza City during the recent war, shown on CNN, NBC News and Channel 4 News, ensures I still get hate mail from those who believe I have a sinister role as a producer of pro-Palestinian propaganda.”
Martin revealed that upon releasing him Hamas threatened to reveal his home address and the whereabouts of his children to “other agencies who might take a more aggressive view of things” if he revealed too much about my prison conditions or criticised them. Martin insisted however that he will not be “cowed into silence”.
He said he plans to “fight for the rights of my colleagues still held in jail; to fight to free, or save the lives of, those dissidents who are locked up after speaking to us, or face death, as does the reformed rocket-firer Mohamed,” and added that “Hamas, and all regimes and groups who behave repressively, can expect much more exposure from my pen and my camera. And, I hope, from us all.” Martin has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 News, al-Jazeera as well as The Times and The Guardian.
World Press Freedom Day is organised by the United Nations and is held on 3 May every year to “celebrate the fundamental principles of press and media freedom that are articulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. An interactive timeline on the World Press Freedom Day website tells the story of investigative journalist Robert Mukombozi who has covered wars, corruption and killings in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The website reveals that he has been “arrested, kidnapped and shot at”. It says: “In April 2008 he was deemed persona non grata and given five minutes to leave Rwandan soil. He has not seen his family since.” Mukombozi was resettled in Brisbane by the UNHCR.
Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette.