Thursday, January 14, 2010

Israel and press freedom

The saga of the detained journalist continues:

Ma'an is pleased to share news that Tel Aviv District Judge Mirium Solokov agreed to hear the case of its chief English editor, Jared Malsin, during proceedings held at her court on Thursday morning.

Solokov rejected a request by the Israeli attorney general to dismiss an injunction filed by Ma'an that would temporarily prevent Malsin's impending expulsion. Setting a hearing for Sunday, Solokov asked both sides to gather additional information.

Malsin, an American citizen, was originally detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday, 12 January 2009. He was held along with his girlfriend, Lutheran Church volunteer Faith Rowold, who was deported early Thursday morning.

Since he was detained, Malsin has been denied contact with anyone but a consular representative and his lawyer, who has been permitted to visit just once and for less than 20 minutes. According to the attorney, Carlos Daoud, ever since the judge accepted Malsin's case, new obstacles have been put in place to prevent him from seeing his client.

More than 48 hours after he was first detained, Malsin is still being denied access to any of his belongings. He was not been given a change of clothes, toiletries, or offered the chance to shower. "I have nothing," he said during a visit to his detention cell by a US consular official on Thursday afternoon. "I don't even have a pen or paper, not even a book."

While Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev has described as "absurd" multiple reports that Malsin's detention was linked to his position as a professional journalist, documents filed by the attorney general suggest otherwise. Indeed, the official explanation filed by the country's own immigration department cited news stories Malsin had authored "inside the territories," and "criticizing the State of Israel."

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the International Press Institute have all issued public statements condemning Israel's decision to detain Malsin, and have urged his unconditional release.

Dutch officials, whose government provided some of Ma'an's initial funding in 2005, expressed concern and are monitoring the situation. US consular staff continue to closely monitor the case and have contacted Israeli officials over the incident. Dozens of government representatives in Palestine have privately contacted Ma'an to express their own concerns, indicating they may try to take action.

Ma'an scrupulously maintains its editorial independence and aims to promote access to information, freedom of expression, press freedom, and media pluralism in Palestine. It has no other agenda. Israel's arbitrary detention of the head of its English Desk is an affront to journalists not only in Palestine, but also in Israel and abroad, who rely on Ma'an for its accuracy, impartiality, and independence.

For more information please contact

George Hale (English) +972(0)52.785-4907 Raed Othman (Arabic) +972(0)59.925-8704 For a timeline of the detention


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