British journalist Paul Martin was released into freedom in Israel yesterday after being held captive by Hamas in Gaza for the last four weeks. Martin had spent most of that time in solitary confinement and was denied regular access to a lawyer and other basic human rights.
His wife said she was “extremely relieved that Paul has been released.”
His daughters, Laura and Suzy, added: “Our dad is a brave and dedicated journalist, whose passion is to give an objective and informed picture of events in conflict zones around the world. We are thrilled to know that he is safe and he is coming home soon.”
It is not known whether the British government paid any money to Hamas to secure Martin’s release. There are widespread rumors in the Middle East that the British and other European governments paid considerable cash sums in the past to free European nationals held by Palestinian forces in Gaza.
What is amazing is the incredible lack of coverage of Paul Martin’s case in the media (including outlets where he had worked, such as the BBC and The Times of London) and the lack of concern from human rights groups. Can you imagine the reaction of the media and of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch if Israel had detained a journalist for even four days in solitary confinement on trumped-up charges?
One of Hamas’ aims in detaining Martin was, of course, to further deter any brave foreign journalist on assignment in Gaza who might dare report the truth about the Hamas regime.
Indeed according to the Palestinian Maan news agency (but not reported by most Western media) Hamas detained Martin because he “sought to distort the image of Palestinians by going to tunnels, trying to prove that Hamas smuggles weapons, that we used children as human shields during the war.” In other words Martin wanted to tell the truth.
For background on the case, and for comparisons to the very different way that the BBC and other liberal media covered the captivity of another British reporter in Gaza: Alan Johnson, a reporter who unlike Martin was blatantly pro-Palestinian, please see here.
Above: Paul Martin was detained by Hamas’ security forces, here pictured during training.