Rizek Abdel Jawad
The Associated Press
February 28, 2010 - 1:00am

A Gaza military prosecutor wants to extend the detention of a British journalist, claiming he poses a security threat, a Hamas government official said Sunday.

Freelance journalist Paul Martin has been held in Gaza since Feb. 14, the first foreigner to be arrested since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. Martin's case is being closely watched by international organizations with staff in Gaza as a gauge of how the Hamas government will deal with foreigners.

Martin's initial 15-day arrest warrant expires Monday. At that time, a prosecutor will ask a court to keep Martin in custody, said Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Emad Ghussein.

Martin's lawyer, Sharhabil Zayim, said that following standard procedure, prosecutors would likely seek another 15 days, the maximum time someone can be held without formal charges being presented.

Hamas officials have not made specific accusations against Martin, but Ghussein has said the journalist poses a threat to Gaza's security.

Martin was arrested in a Gaza military court as he was about to testify on behalf of a Gaza militant who was accused of collaborating with Israel. Hamas security officials routinely round up Palestinians they believe are passing on information about them to Israel.

Zayim said he saw Martin 10 days ago and that the journalist was being treated well. He said he has not been allowed to visit Martin since.

The British Consulate in Jerusalem is waiting for the outcome of Monday's court hearing, said a spokesman, Fadi Adeeb.

Martin, who had been working on a documentary about the accused collaborator, has produced reports for the British Broadcasting Corp. and The Times of London.


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