Israeli Military Court Sentences Palestinian Astrophysicist to 7 Months for Incitement
Imad Barghouthi will be released just one month after sentencing, as he has been in administrative detention since April, causing an international uproar.
An Israeli military court in Ofer sentenced Palestinian astrophysicist Prof. Imad Barghouthi to seven months in prison on Sunday and ordered that he pay a 2,000 shekel fine after he was convicted of incitement.
Barghouthi is expected to be released in November, as the court ruled that the calculation of his sentencing would begin from the day he was arrested and placed in administrative detention (detention without trial) in April.
Barghouthi, 54, is a resident of the village of Reit Rima near Ramallah and a lecturer at al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. He was first arrested on April 24 and placed in administrative detention for three months with Israeli security forces claiming that he was connected to a Hamas cell at the university and had participated in acts of incitement.
A military court of appeals seemed poised to order Barghouthi's release in May, and the Palestinian Prisoner's Club expressed confidence that they would secure his release. Just three days prior to his potential release date, however, Barghouthi was transferred to a Shin Bet facility where he was questioned and prosecutors announced that he would be indicted for incitement to violence on social media.
Jawad Boulos, the director of the legal department of the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, called the decision scandalous and said it indicated clearly that the authorities in Israel are using baseless claims to oppress the Palestinians. He noted that the military court had ruled that Barghouthi did not constitute a danger and ordered him released and that just days later evidence was presented sufficient to prosecute him.
Security officials confirmed that Barghouthi would be indicted and said that during his detention evidence of incitement accumulated and that the state was working hard to fight incitement to violence and terror.
Barghouthi's detention stirred sentiments around the globe, inspiring over 350 international academics to sign a petition demanding his release.
Signatories to the petition presented to the court included eminent researchers Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; Fields Medal laureate David Mumford, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Brown University; and Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Toronto. Notable pro-Palestinian scholar Noam Chomsky also signed the petition.
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