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Palestinian jailed for Abbas Facebook 'insult'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Palestinian court on Thursday sentenced a West Bank man to a year in prison for "insulting" president Mahmud Abbas in a remark he posted on Facebook.

A court in the northern West Bank city of Nablus sent Anas Said Awad, 26, from the nearby village of Awarta, to jail over a caption he posted next to a picture of Abbas kicking a football saying "a new striker for Real Madrid," his father told AFP.

"What my son wrote was not insulting to the president," Said Awad said, adding that his son was a Real Madrid supporter. "It was part of comments exchanged among young people. He did not commit any crime."

He said Anas had in the past been arrested several times by Palestinian security forces for membership of the Hamas militant group which rules the Gaza Strip, his father said.

His father said that the judge handed down the sentence without calling Anas into the courtroom, even though he was waiting elsewhere in the building.

"I do not think there was anything insulting in this photo and I do not think it is the reason for this ruling," he said, adding that Anas had been detained for two months in 2011 and interrogated on security issues linked to Hamas.

His lawyer, Rima al-Sayed, told AFP that her client had been "convicted in absentia" and that she would appeal.

In 2010 a young Palestinian blogger in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya was arrested for writing "blasphemy against the Prophet (Mohammed) and the Koran" and put into protective custody by the Palestinian security service.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130207/palestinian-jailed-abbas-facebook-insult