After one month in detention for Facebook posts, Adalah frees political leader from Abnaa al-Balad, Mohammad Kana’neh; state to appeal

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court rejected the prosecution’s request to further extend the detention of Mohammad Kana’neh, one of the leaders of the Abnaa el-Balad movement, until the end of trial.

Yesterday, 14 July 2021, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court rejected the prosecution’s request for the continued detention of the political activist Mohammad Kana’neh, a leader of Abnaa al-Balad, an extra-parliamentary movement, until the end of trial.


Kana’neh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested on 14 June after speaking at a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where Palestinian refugee families face imminent displacement. During his speech, Kana’neh addressed nearby Arab police officers and said, “Get out of the army”. Although the court ruled that the content of his speech was unlikely to constitute a criminal offense, he remained in detention, and the prosecutor’s office began collecting old posts from Kana’neh’s Facebook page in an attempt to justify it.


On 1 July 2021, the prosecution filed an indictment against Kana’neh for speech offences including expressing support for terror organizations and incitement, referencing his speech from Sheikh Jarrah, and 20 Facebook posts from accounts managed by Kana’neh – the vast majority of which were from 2018. As listed in the indictment, the content of these posts includes welcoming the release of prisoners and supporting the fight against illegal political arrests and administrative detention. Another post includes a statement by the political prisoner Khalida Jarrar commemorating International Women’s Day, and Kana’neh had posted “God have mercy” to mourn the deaths of other political prisoners.


CLICK HERE To read the indictment [Hebrew]


The Jerusalem Magistrates Court delivered its decision yesterday following a 6 July hearing, in which Kana’neh’s defense attorneys argued that all the posts presented by the prosecution were legitimate and lawful exercises of the right to free speech and did not amount to a criminal offense. They also argued that even if the court found that the evidence presented by the state may suffice to establish an offense, such a finding would not justify Kana’neh’s continued detention.


Although Judge Elazar Bialin found prima facie evidence for some of the charges, the court approved alternatives to imprisonment. The court decided to release Kana’neh under house arrest and prohibit him from accessing the Internet, conducting interviews, or speaking before any audience. The prosecutor’s office announced that it will appeal the decision to the district court. In response, the Magistrates Court delayed the date and time of Kana’neh’s release (pending appeal) to Friday, 16 July 2021, at 12:00.


Criminal Case No. 2406-07-21, State of Israel v. Kana’neh

CLICK HERE to read the decision [Hebrew]


Kana’neh’s defense attorneys include Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Sawsan Zaher from Adalah and Attorney Bilal Naamneh from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.


Kana’neh’s lawyers commented: “Recently, the State Attorney’s Office has pursued an extreme and unreasonable policy against Palestinian citizens of Israel that includes requesting persons charged with speech crimes to be detained until the end of trial, in an attempt to use such detention as a tool of punishment. There is no criminal offense in Kana’neh’s legitimate political statements, and we see in both the recent series of baseless indictments and the requests to further detain Palestinian political leaders as harassment and as an attempt to deter the entire Palestinian Arab public and to silence protests against their oppression.”


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