Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi to be released Sunday following international academic outcry


Palestinian astrophysicist and professor Imad Barghouthi will be released on Sunday following an international outcry by academics, scientists and mathematicians over his detention.

Palestinian lawyer Jawad Boulos said in Ma’an News that the Ofer Military Court ordered Barghouthi’s release on Sunday after a month of administrative detention without charge or trial. Boulos noted that he had submitted the international petitions by scientists and academics demanding Barghouthi’s release.

Barghouthi, 54, a renowned astrophysicist and professor of theoretical plasma physics at Al-Quds University, was arrested on 24 April by Israeli occupation forces at a military checkpoint by Nabi Saleh. He was originally ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial for three months; the military court confirmed his detention for two months on 11 May after Boulos highlighted the international support for Barghouthi. While Israeli administrative detention is without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence, Jawad Boulos, Barghouthi’s lawyer, said that military prosecutors claimed his detention was over Facebook postings.

However, at the hearing on 26 May, Barghouthi won an early end to his detention; Boulos said that Barghouthi said in court that he is and will remain against the occupation, but that this is not a legitimate “threat to the safety and security of the public.” Barghouthi is one of approximately 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention, and one of 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners.

This is not the first time Barghouthi was arrested – and released early following international academic and scientific pressure.

In December 2014, Barghouthi was arrested as he attempted to cross the border to Jordan to attend an academic conference in the UAE. Once again, he was ordered to three months in administrative detention without charge or trial; he was released early, on 22 January, after international petitions by scientists and academics.

After Barghouthi’s arrest on 24 April, hundreds of academics signed a letter initiated by the Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine (AURDIP), the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), and the Belgian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI).

Prominent scientists and mathematicians initiated a letter supported by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), and AURDIP. The over 300 signers included leading physicists Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; David Mumford, Fields Medal 1974; and Chandler Davis, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Toronto, as well as Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network congratulates Imad Barghouthi on his upcoming release on Sunday and demands the release of all imprisoned Palestinian students and academics, and all Palestinian prisoners. As Duha Barghouthi, Imad’s daughter and a new high school graduate said, “My father isn’t the only scientist who has been persecuted by the Israeli occupation. There is a war on Palestinian education. My father is fortunate enough to have made an international reputation for himself academically. People all over the world are speaking up for him, but what he would like most is for people to speak up for all Palestinian prisoners.”