Nael Barghouthi denied release, threatened with reimposition of former life sentence

Nael Barghouthi, the longest-held Palestinian prisoner, was denied release in a hearing at Ofer military court on Wednesday, 4 January. An Israeli military committee is currently deciding whether or not to reinstate his previous life sentence, on the basis of secret evidence.

Barghouthi, 59, has served a total of 36 years in Israeli prison. Arrested in 1978 by Israeli occupation forces for his participation in the Palestinian armed resistance, he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange with over 1,000 fellow Palestinian prisoners. With dozens of fellow former prisoners, Barghouthi was re-arrested in June 2014 in an Israeli attempt to pressure Palestinian resistance forces.

Israeli military order 1651 declares – in violation of the exchange agreement – that an Israeli military committee can reinstate the prior sentence of any Palestinian released in an exchange agreement on the basis of secret evidence. If there are any allegations at all made available to the prisoner or their lawyer – and no evidence – they can be as simple as associating with members of a prohibited organization, including every major Palestinian political party.

Over 50 Palestinian prisoners have had their original sentences re-instated by this military committee, including former long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi. Barghouthi, however, was ordered to 30 months in prison, a sentence that expired on 17 December. In 2015, the Israeli military prosecution appealed the sentence, demanding his original life sentence be re-imposed. No decision has been made in the case by the committee, but Barghouthi remains imprisoned despite the expiration of his sentence. His lawyers appealed for his release, but on Wednesday, 4 January, it was denied, reportedly on the basis that Barghouthi may escape, when it is likely his former sentence will be restored, according to the military court.

Nael’s brother, Omar Barghouthi, also a long-term ex-prisoner, said that the prison administration and intelligence agencies do not act according to law, and “they will not allow my brother to live one moment outside the prison.” When Barghouthi was released, he married Iman Nafie, also a former prisoner. Nafie and the family lawyer, Merav Khoury, stated that they would appeal to the Supreme Court for Barghouthi’s release.

Addameer and Samidoun have urged international action to free Nael Barghouthi and end the persecution of former prisoners. Please take action to call for Barghouthi’s immediate release.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network are joining in this urgent call for action to pressure Israel to release Nael Barghouthi, being held as a political hostage by the Israeli government.


  1. Sign and share the petition to urge international officials to take action for Nael Barghouthi’s release:
  1. Organize a protest, demonstration, speaking event or banner drop in your city, community or campus calling for freedom for Nael Barghouthi and his fellow Palestinian prisoners.
  1. Write to Israeli officials to demand Nael Barghouthi’s release. Write a message and email or fax it to the officials. Details available here: