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International Press Institute to Israel: Press freedom applies to all

Jan. 15, 2010 4:56 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 15, 2010 4:56 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The International Press Institute is troubled by the possibility that Israel has detained and will deport editor Jared Malsin because they dislike the editorial policies at Ma'an News Agency.

"The authorities should recognize that the right of press freedom applies to all journalists, not just to reporters who write favourably about Israeli government policy," said IPI director David Dadge in a statement.

According to Nasser Lahham, editor-in-chief of Ma'an: "I think they are targeting Ma'an and Jared also. They knew he was a journalist working in the Palestinian media and they don't want our English page to be strong. They don't care what we say on the Arabic page. Just because he is the head of the English desk, they target him."

Israeli authorities are threatening to expel Malsin, who was detained on Tuesday afternoon at Ben Gurion International Airport, as he and his girlfriend were returning from a holiday in the Czech Republic. Israeli security agents had confiscated their cell phones before they boarded their flight. On landing, the pair was interrogated for eight hours.

They were scheduled to be deported at 6.00 am on Thursday. Malsin's girlfriend, who had been working as a volunteer in Israel, was sent back to the Czech Republic. However, Malsin's expulsion was stalled by the injunction filed by Ma'an's lawyers last night. His case will be heard by Judge Miriam Sokolov on Sunday.

Malsin has been in Israeli custody since his arrival, although Israeli authorities repeatedly denied this fact when questioned by representatives of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The authorities have accused Malsin of entering Israel illegally, "refusal to cooperate," "lying to border officials," "exploiting his Jewishness to get into Israel," and "entering Israel on the basis of lies," according to a document filed by the Israeli attorney general. They also noted that Malsin wrote articles from within the Palestinian territories, including reports that criticize Israel.

The Ma'an is based in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and offers news coverage in both English and Arabic. Journalists at the agency, like most Palestinian journalists working for agencies based in the Palestinian territories, receive only Palestinian press accreditation which is not recognized by Israel.
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