February 14, 2010 / 8:28 PM / 10 years ago

Hamas arrests British journalist in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas police have arrested a British journalist in the Gaza Strip, an official in the ruling Palestinian Islamist movement said Sunday, accusing him of unspecified security offences.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain identified the detainee as freelance correspondent Paul Martin.

“We have confessions that the British journalist committed offenses against Palestinian law, and that harms the security of the country,” Ghsain said, without giving details on who had confessed and under what circumstances.

The Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem confirmed that a journalist by that name has visited the region on assignments for several years. An Internet search found his byline in The Mirror and The Times dailies, as well as the BBC News site.

The British consulate in Jerusalem, which oversees affairs in Gaza and the West Bank, did not return a call for comment.

Hamas, shunned by the West for refusing to coexist with Israel, has been in charge of Gaza since defeating the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a 2007 civil war.

Human rights groups have criticized both Hamas and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority for detaining journalists and placing other curbs on media freedoms.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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