Hamas Extends Detention of British Journalist

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GAZA STRIP - British documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist Paul Martin will spend another 15 days in a Gaza jail.

On February 14, as Martin was about to testify on behalf of a Hamas operative accused of collaborating with Israel, the prosecutor ordered his arrest.

"The policeman put the handcuffs on him and took him out of the court to prison. They were rough with him," said the defendant's attorney Ehab Jaber.

Martin, accused of unspecified security offenses, has been held for 15 days.

"We have confessions that the British journalist committed offenses against Palestinian law and that harms the security of the country," Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghussein told reporters after his arrest.

Martin's attorney, Sharhabil Zayim, said his client faced another 15 days in detention after which he would either be indicted or released.

The Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem, which aides foreign journalists covering stories in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, issued a statement following his arrest.

"We expect Hamas, as we do all parties, to respect the rights of every journalist on assignment to work without fear of being arrested."

Martin is the first foreign journalist to be detained by Hamas since it took control of the Gaza Strip in a bloody military coup against Fatah, its rival Palestinian faction, in June 2007.

Martin's arrest raises concern for the safety of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip.

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AP contributed to this report.

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