Al-Quds Professor Imad Barghouthi was charged in August 2020 for the content of his Facebook posts.

Imad Barghouthi, renowned Palestinian astrophysicist, Professor of Plasma Physics at Al Quds university (West Bank), has been detained since July 22nd, 2020. It was only after being held in jail for several weeks that charges, related to the content of his Facebook posts, were moved against him. Now, more than half a year after his arrest, Imad is still incarcerated, awaiting trial.

Already in September, a judge had agreed on releasing him on bail, a decision which sparked hopes of seeing Prof. Barghouthi reunited with his family, as well as his colleagues and students at Al Quds. However, this verdict was rapidly overturned by the Isaeli Military commander of the West Bank who, based on secret evidence which not even the defense lawyer can access, placed Prof. Barghouthi in Administrative Detention since.  Administrative detention is a system regularly employed by Israel to imprison Palestinians without any charges or trials; it can be prolonged for indefinite periods of time and is mandated top-down from Israeli military commanders. The initial three months detention order has since been renewed, and to this day Prof. Barghouthi remains in prison.

Residents of the West Bank, like Imad, are tried in Israeli military courts which are known to have astronomical conviction rates and violating basic international law. Imad’s lawyer, with the support of his family, decided then to appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice, which is instead a civil institution. Unfortunately the first hearing, scheduled for February 15th, was postponed and took place on February 22nd. Allegedly, after hearing both sides, the judge listened behind closed doors to the Israeli Secret Service and was convinced to reject the appeal. Thus Prof. Barghouthi, one of Palestine’s most prominent scientists charged solely on the bases of a few Facebook posts, will remain in prison for the foreseeable future.

As concerned scientists and individuals, it is hard to remain silent in front of such a blatant human rights violation and in fact we should not. The harassment of scientists and their imprisonment without a fair trial is in direct violation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 27, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, article 14. We ask for the immediate liberation of professor Barghouthi which should be granted a fair and just trial!