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Palestinian journalist Yousef al Shayib uncovered evidence of alleged corruption

Credit: by jfgornet on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said the protection of sources is an "essential tenet" of independent reporting after Palestinian journalist Yousef al Shayib was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment for refusing to disclose his sources.

Writing on the IFJ site on Friday, the federation's president Jim Boumelha said: "Journalists the world over will be outraged that Shayib has been sentenced for upholding such a basic principle. He has no case to answer and should be released immediately."

Shayib's imprisonment comes after uncovering evidence of alleged corruption during a Palestinian Authority diplomatic mission to France which was published in Jordanian paper Al-Ghad in January, according to the IFJ.

His arrest last Monday (26 March) comes after both the Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry and the diplomatic mission itself took legal action alleging defamation, according to the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate.

He was initially held for two days by Palestinian authorities seeking the source of his reports, but when he refused to cooperate a court ordered this to be extended to 15 days.

"Failure to enforce the confidentiality of journalists' sources will allow powerful figures to evade legitimate scrutiny," said Boumelha. "This is not only bad for press freedom but also for democratic rule."

A statement issued by Reporters Without Borders added: "We urge the Palestinian judicial system to respect Shayib’s right not to reveal his sources, a right that is recognized by Palestinian law.”

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