SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: July 16, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Al Quds University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 16, 2020, Israeli Defense Forces detained Al-Quds University scholar Imad Barghouthi.

Barghouthi, a renowned professor of Theoretical Space Plasma Physics at Al-Quds University, was returning to his home in Ramallah when Israeli soldiers stopped him at a military checkpoint outside Jerusalem and put him under administrative detention. Two weeks later, he was reportedly charged with “incitement and support for a hostile organization” in connection with alleged social media activity.

On September 2, a court granted Barghouthi bail; however, this decision was immediately followed by an order by Israeli military authorities to put him under administrative detention until November 15. Barghouthi has reportedly been denied communication with his spouse and daughter while in custody.

On two previous occasions, in 2014 and 2016, Barghouthi was also arrested in connection with expressive activity.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arbitrary detention and prosecution of a scholar in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expression — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights standards including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, arrests in connection with scholars’ nonviolent expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.