09/01/2017, 09.09
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After 20 months, Israeli frees "dangerous" Palestinian clown

Mohammed Abu Sakha was arrested in December 2015 because he was suspected of belonging to a Palestinian leftist movement, considered "terrorist". In almost two years the authorities have never laid any real charge. When returning to Jenin, family members and friends welcomed him with a party. He says he will return to the circus, a "source of hope" for the population. 

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - After 20 months of uninterrupted administrative detention and formal indictment, Israeli authorities released 26-year-old Palestinian clown Mohammad Abu Sakha. He was accused of belonging to a left-wing motion banned by the Jewish state. That's why he spent nearly two years in prison.

Asked by Afp, the young Palestinian circus artist confirmed his release on August 30 last. When he got out of prison, he returned to Jenin, in the north of the West Bank, where his family was waiting for him.

"It was a celebration," the young man pointed out.

Administrative detention enforced by Israel - strongly criticized by NGOs and human rights activists – allows the state to jail people for long periods on mere suspicion without precise charges; it can be unilaterally renewed every six months and is used against both Palestinians and Israelis. For the Palestinian Catholic leader Bernard Sabella, the court order "violates human rights and fair trial".

Following his arrest two years ago,  a spokesman for the Israeli army said Mohammed Abu Sakha was part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel deems as terrorist because its members are armed. That is why he represents "a danger to the security of the region".

Claims were also made that his case is based on "confidential information". This formula is used by Israel to justify the administrative detention without having to present evidence for their allegations.

Mohammed Abu Sakha (pictured) has decided to devote his life to improving the lives of children and young people in the West Bank thanks to the circus of art learned within the Palestinian Circus School. He reports that in these 20 months of detention the Israeli authorities never told him the precise reason for his arrest in December 2015, or how long it would have been detained.

The Palestinian artist has already clarified that he wants to "return" to the circus, which he considers a "message" of hope for the local people. "Israel stops people every day - he adds - and locks them up. The circus is a source of hope for them. "

So far, the Israeli army did not want to comment on the matter and did not clarify the reasons for the release of the young man.

Palestinian human rights activist groups report that to date there are at least 6200 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails; of these, approximately 450 are held on the basis of an administrative detention order.

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