The jailed General Secretary of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat, was elected to his position following the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa in 2002.
He is also a member of the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Central Committee and the head of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustafa list for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections.
Saadat joined the PFLP after Israeli occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. He spent most of the following years in prison, as Israeli forces continually arrested and released him.
Four years ago the Palestinian Authority arrested Saadat. Currently, he remains in the PA’s Jericho Prison and where US and British security personnel guard him.
On 15 January 2002, PA security forces arrested Saadat and held him in the Muqata’ [Government offices] in Ramallah in a cell not far from President Arafat’s office.
The PA issued no charges against the PFLP leader. The arrest came shortly after the previous PFLP leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, was killed in his office by an Israeli air strike.
The PFLP responded to the strike by assassinating the Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi. The Minister was a vocal advocate of transferring all Palestinians out of Palestine.
During the Israeli siege of the Muqata’ on 29 March 2002, Israel demanded that the PFLP leader be handed over. Following a deal negotiated between the US, Britain, Israel, and the PA, Saadat was transferred to the PA’s Jericho Prison under British and US custody.
Shortly thereafter, the Palestinian High Court of Justice ordered the release of Saadat on 3 June 2002. It is believed that he was warned by British guards against leaving the facility.
A representative of Amnesty International visited Saadat in 2002, and immediately issued a statement demanding his release.
The Role of the PA
All Palestinian Interior Ministers have met with Saadat since his arrest. He has repeatedly asked them to review his case, but no action has been taken as of yet.
The PFLP list leader is not allowed to take part in any PLC election publicity campaigns, nor is he allowed to directly address the Palestinian people through television, radio, or print media. However he held a press conference earlier this week and presented the PFLP platform and Maan News interviewed him live on television on Friday evening.
It is requested that the High Court decision be implemented immediately.
Saadat should be given a competitive chance in the PLC elections, like all other candidates, and be allowed to pursue a legitimate publicity campaign. It is also requested that representatives of all factions forget their differences and loudly demand the release of Saadat.