Radio Bethlehem 2000 announced on Monday that its director George Qanawati, was beaten up and tortured while being under police custody. Qanawati was arrested by Palestinian police and secret service officers from his home in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday night.

According to his neighbors, officers stormed his home violently searched it then attacked Qanawati and his family slightly injuring his mother during the arrest.

Today Qanawati appeared in the local court in Bethlehem city; according to radio Bethlehem 2000 he was seen beaten up and tortured. His lawyer was not allowed to attend the court hearing with him, witnesses added.

The radio station on its website announced that the police accused Qanawati of slander and public insulate of officials during his weekly show Amar Yabalad – building our country in English.

Qanawati’s show focuses in bring forth residents concerns and problems and try to address them in public debate between officials and residents every Thursday.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms – MADA – demanded on Monday the immediate release of Qanawati.

In a press statement MADA said that “The arrest of colleague Qanawati and beating him constitutes a serious violation of media freedoms and condemned action , and we reiterate our demand for his immediate release and respect for freedom of expression in Palestine.”

At the end of the court hearing today the judge extended the detention of Qanawati for additional 48 hours for further investigation.