Israeli military prosecutors have filed “incitement” charges against Professor Imad Barghouthi, the Palestinian astrophysicist held in administrative detention since 24 April, who was due to be released on Sunday.
Barghouthi’s case has attracted growing global attention, especially from concerned fellow scientists.
The Palestinian Prisoners Club said in a statement on Sunday that Israeli occupation forces had canceled Barghouthi’s expected release after military prosecutors filed charges over statements the Al-Quds University professor allegedly made on Facebook.
Jawad Boulos, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, described the latest Israeli move as “shameless.”
In a rare victory last Thursday, an Israeli military court had granted Barghouthi’s demand to be released from administrative detention – prolonged, indefinitely renewable imprisonment without charge or trial.
But the victory was short lived.
Boulos said the decision to charge Barghouthi now was “absurd” given what had happened at Thursday’s hearing.
Boulos said the Israeli military prosecutor had told the military judge that he had examined Barghouthi’s file and found insufficient evidence to charge him.
It was on that basis that the prosecutor had asked the military judge to extend Barghouthi’s administrative detention, which the military court refused to do.
Boulos said that Barghouthi’s case “demonstrates to anyone who still needs proof that all of the ‘legal’ procedures established by the occupation forces … are flimsy and fake and give no heed to legal principles.”
“We confirm that all these measures have no aim but to repress the Palestinian by any means or excuse to keep him behind bars,” Boulos added.
Last week, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem announced it would end a decades-long policy of cooperating with the military justice system, saying it was nothing more than a fig leaf to legitimize the occupation.
Prisoner rights group Addameer estimates that 750 Palestinians are currently detained indefinitely by Israel without charge or trial.
During last week’s appeal, Boulos submitted a petition signed by academics from all over the world urging Barghouthi’s release.
Another letter delivered to the Israeli prime minister’s office was signed by more than 350 international scholars, many at the top of mathematics and science fields.
Among the prominent signatories are David Mumford, winner of the 1974 Fields Medal, often called the Nobel Prize of mathematics; leading physicist Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Toronto.
Other academic signatories include Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Angela Davis.
This is the second time occupation forces have detained Barghouthi after he criticized Israel online.
In December 2014, Barghouthi was arrested for comments he made on Facebook and on television.