Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh Threatened by Palestinian Official

On September 24, 2002 the Jerusalem Post reported that a senior aide to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei was arrested in Jerusalem for threatening Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh over an article he wrote.

Palestinian affairs correspondent Abu Toameh lodged a complaint with Jerusalem police against Salah Elayan, Qurei’s bureau chief for repeated telephone threats over an article about Qurei’s request for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Elayan was detained by police, then released on bail and ordered not to approach Abu Toameh .

Abu Toameh reported that “it all started with a news story in Sunday’s Jerusalem Post (September 22, 2002) about a phone conversation between Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.”

The conversation between the two had taken place the previous day (September 21, 2002) and concerned the crisis in Yasir Arafat’s Ramallah offices. Elayan called to protest the story and, according to Abu Toameh: “immediately started abusing me and threatening to harm me” and “refused to listen to anything I had to say…Even after I hung up the phone…he made several more calls to my mobile phone, repeating his threats and curses.”

Elayan was not the only one to harass Abu Toameh. Another aide of Qurei’s called “under the pretext that the story had ‘harmed Qurei’s dignity and presented him as someone who is humiliating himself in front of the Israeli prime minister.'”

Abu Toameh maintains that “the real danger comes not from the bullets of an M-16 or AK-47 assault rifle. Rather, it comes from attempts by certain elements in the PA to intimidate journalists who are only trying to carry out their jobs in a professional manner.” Although, he says, the Palestinian Authority’s records on freedom of the press has improved slightly over the past few years, there are still those in the PA who believe “that a journalist’s is first to be ‘loyal to the cause’and then to report the truth.”

Qurei’s office claimed that he had nothing to do with the threats.

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