Pressure Israel to Free Nael Barghouthi, Longest-Held Palestinian Prisoner
Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi, 59 has been imprisoned for 36 years in Israeli jails, and he is the longest-held Palestinian political prisoner. Today, on the basis of so-called "secret evidence," he is threatened with the re-imposition of life imprisonment with no charges and no legitimate trial.
Along with over 1,000 fellow prisoners, he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange. While he married after his release and returned to his life, in 2014, he was swept up with other former prisoners in a series of arrests. Under Israeli military order 1651 - violating the release agreement - re-arrested prisoners can have their former sentences reimposed upon them by a military committee on the basis of secret evidence. This secret evidence is denied to both the prisoner and their lawyer.
Even with this secret evidence, Nael Barghouthi was ordered to 30 months in prison, a sentence that ended in mid-December. He has remained in prison due to an appeal by the military prosecution, seeking the re-imposition of a life sentence on the basis of so-called secret evidence. We urge international action to pressure Israel to release Nael Barghouthi, who is being held as a political hostage by the Israeli government.
- United States Secretary of State
John Kerry (United States Secretary of State)
- Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada
Chrystia Freeland (Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada)
- Council of the European Union
We write today to urge international pressure on Israel for the immediate release of Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi, held for a total of 36 years in Israeli prisons, the longest-held Palestinian political prisoner. Barghouthi was freed along with over 1,000 Palestinian fellow prisoners in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
When he was released from prison, Barghouthi married another former prisoner, Iman Nafie, and returned to life in his village. In 2014, along with dozens of fellow released prisoners, Barghouthi was re-arrested. Under Israeli military order 1651 - that contravenes the term of the prisoner release - re-arrested prisoners can have their former sentences reimposed upon them by a military committee on the basis of secret evidence. This secret evidence is denied to both the prisoner and their lawyer.
Nael Barghouthi was ordered to 30 months in Israeli prisons on the basis of that secret information, a sentence that expired in December 2016. Despite the expiration of his sentence, Barghouthi was not release. Instead, the Israeli military prosecution is appealing his sentence and instead demanding the re-imposition of his former life sentence. To date, this military commission has re-imposed the sentences of over 50 prisoners. While the appeal was submitted on 25 November 2015, no ruling has yet been made.
Nael Barghouthi is being brought before a military court, and is threatened with the re-imposition of his former sentence. He has been denied family visits with his wife on the pretext of "security" as she is a former prisoner.
We call on the European Union, United States and Canada to pressure Israel for the immediate release of Nael Barghouthi and an end to the re-imposition of former prisoners' sentences on the basis of so-called secret information. This is an attempt to use Palestinian former prisoners as political hostages in future prisoner exchanges and to violate the exchange agreement itself. Nael Barghouthi has spent over 35 years in prison and faces no charges. No evidence has been presented to him or his lawyer. His continued detention is arbitrary and unjust, and we call for international pressure for his immediate freedom.
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