RAMALLAH, January 31 (JMCC) - Amnesty International has called on Israel
to stop harassing Palestinian human rights campaigners after a popular activist was jailed for nine years on Sunday.
Ameer Makhoul, from Haifa
in Israel, was convicted of several counts of espionage and having contact with enemies of Israel. His sentence could have been one of life, but more serious charges were dropped after Makhoul agreed to a plea bargain.
Ameer Makhoul's jailing is a very disturbing development and we will be studying the details of the sentencing as soon as we can, said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
Ameer Makhoul is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment.
We are also extremely concerned by allegations that he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated following his arrest on 6 May last year in a dawn police raid on his home in Haifa, by the fact that he was not permitted to see his lawyers for 12 days after his arrest, and by the gag order that prohibited media coverage on the case during this time.
Ameer Makhoul is the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, based in Haifa.