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Hunger striking journalist clings to life, says lawyer

Israel's top court has agreed to hear the case of a hunger-striking Palestinian journalist who is close to death, according to his lawyer. Mohammed al-Qeq has been held without charge under a special Israeli law.

The 33-year-old television correspondent is struggling to speak and open his eyes while shackled to his hospital bed and "could die at any time," Mohammed al Qeq's lawyer, Jawad Boulos, said on Tuesday.

After more than two months without food, Qeq's organs run the risk of failing, Boulos said. He has been refusing food since November 25 after being detained and held under Israel's controversial administrative detention law, which allows the state to hold suspects without charge or trial for six months at a time.

Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic security service, said Qeq was arrested for "terror activity" as part of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

But Qeq's wife told the AFP news agency that her husband was a professional journalist who was targeted for his work for Saudi Arabia's Al-Majd channel.

"Mohammed is a Palestinian journalist who was only covering the situation in the West Bank and he was arrested because of it," Faihaa Al-Qeq said.

Addameer, a Palestinian rights group, says the journalist was interrogated and tortured immediately after his November 21 arrest.

Israel claims links to Hamas militants

Qeq has been arrested by Israel before. In 2003 he spent a month in jail and in 2004 some 13 months in jail for Hamas-related activities. And in 2008, he was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank's prestigious Birzeit University.

His family says that Qeq's condition is so severe he'll be too ill to attend Wednesday's hearing before the Supreme Court.

"He is suffering from many complications, he couldn't talk and couldn't identify his lawyer or even see him," his wife said.

Israel Protest Palästinenser Mohammed Allan Zwangsernährung

Mohammed Allan became a cause celebre among Palestinians. His case brought attention to Israel's policy of detaining suspects without charge as well as a contentious force-feeding law that critics say amounts to torture.

Administrative detention law under fire

Israel has defended its administrative detention law. But under significant pressure,

31-year-old Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allan was released

following a two-month hunger strike last August that brought him close to death. Israel brought in a law

allowing prisoners to be force-fed

but Israel's medical association says that practice is inhumane.

jar/msh (AFP, AP)

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