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Palestinian activist released to house arrest following appeal

Palestinian activist and citizen of Israel, Raja Eghbaria [Raja Eghbaria/Facebook]

Palestinian political activist and Abnaa Al-Balad leader Raja Eghbaria was released to house arrest yesterday, after an Israeli court agreed with his defence team "that police behaviour confirms he poses no threat justifying detention for a series of Facebook posts over the last year".

According to legal rights centre Adalah, Haifa Magistrates' Court released Eghbaria on terms that ban him from using the internet and telephone, after denying the Israeli police's request to keep him in detention until the conclusion of court proceedings against him.

Israeli police arrested Eghbaria on 11 September, "and interrogated him for seven hours about Facebook status updates that he posted over the past 12 months", Adalah noted. "He was kept in jail on suspicion of online incitement to violence and support of a terror organisation."

However, yesterday, the court accepted the defence team's position that the police's delay in arresting Eghbaria, months after the publication of the Facebook posts in question, "confirms that he does not pose a threat justifying actual detention".

Adalah General Director Hassan Jabareen – who also represents Eghbaria – welcomed the decision.

"We have proven to the court that there is no legal basis for keeping Eghbaria in jail until his trial is over. The indictment itself is faulty due to proven problems with the state's Hebrew translation of the Facebook posts that alter their wording from the original Arabic."

READ: Israel prosecutor says bail denied in incitement cases only for Arabs

"We further proved that none of our client's Facebook posts actually included any call to violence. So there isn't really evidence against him justifying an indictment," he added.

Jabareen also "emphasised the blatant discrimination between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel in such cases, and said the defence team will raise this point in upcoming hearings."

During an earlier hearing, the Israeli prosecutor told the court that "the state has only ever sought detention until the end of court proceedings for Arab suspects in online incitement to terror cases – but never for Jewish suspects."

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