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What are media advocates saying about Jared Malsin?

Jan. 16, 2010 8:36 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2012 10:28 P.M.)
16 January 2010

For immediate release

As Israeli authorities continued preparations to expel Ma'an's chief English editor, media rights organizations have blasted his ongoing detention as an assault on freedom of the press.

The International Federation of Journalists called on Israel to revoke a deportation order served on Jared Malsin, who was arbitrarily denied entry into Israel and has been held since Tuesday.

"We condemn this intolerable violation of press freedom," said Aidan White, the head of the IFJ, the largest union of media professionals worldwide. "The ban of entry in this case appears to be as a reprisal measure for the journalist's independent reporting and that is unacceptable."

White added: "This kind of interference has no place in a democracy."

Ma'an, the largest news network in the occupied Palestinian territories, will challenge Malsin's impending deportation at a hearing scheduled for Sunday at the court of Tel Aviv District Judge Mirium Solokov.

Meanwhile, the IFJ's local representative, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, has likened the expected deportation to "an act of piracy carried out against press freedom," according to PJS chief Naim Tubasi. "This act comes within a series of assaults carried out by Israel toward Palestinian and international journalists who work in the Palestinian territories."

Reporters Without Borders "condemns the detention and imminent expulsion of US journalist Jared Malsin," it said after learning that, upon returning from a vacation in Prague, Malsin was questioned by security officials about articles he wrote that were critical of the Israeli government.

According to the International Press Institute, detaining a journalist because Israel dislikes the editorial policies at Ma'an would be a troubling development: "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."

In turn, the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "alarmed by the Israeli government's efforts to deport Jared Malsin on vague security charges ... We call on the Israeli authorities to ensure that our colleague be allowed to carry out his work without further harassment."

"When the government of Israel detains journalists on trumped up charges and on censorship, then Israel is basically admitting that they do abuse citizen rights, they do violate international law and they do not respect the fundamental basics that will one day usher in an era of peace," noted Ray Hanania, syndicated columnist and Chicago coordinator of the National Arab American Journalists Association.

Hanania called not only for Israel to immediately release Malsin, but also urged "Israeli journalists who claim to be objective and concerned about free speech, democracy and the accuracy in reporting to also publicly protest the arrest."

In fact, some already have expressed concerns. "We do not know all the details of the charges against Jared Malsin," said Israel's Jerusalem Association of Journalists (JAJ). "But we certainly and clearly support the right of all journalists to report freely from Israel, irrespective of whether the reporting is favourable or unfavourable to the state of Israel."

The JAJ also warned against campaigns which have a political motive and "try to portray Israel as a state without media freedom," a point with which Ma'an News Agency indicated it agreed.

"Ma'an has no interest in escalating this dispute with the Government of Israel," Ma'an's George Hale said, pointing out that according to a 2009 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Israel ranked ahead of all but three countries in the Middle East in terms of respect to freedom of the press.

"But we will not stand idly by while professional journalists like Jared Malsin are arbitrarily seized, humiliated, and expelled in retaliation for the content of their reportage," he said.

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. The cynical detention of its English editor is an affront to journalists not only here, but in Israel and abroad, who rely on Ma'an for its accuracy, impartiality, and independence.

For further inquiries, please contact:

George Hale (English)

972(0)52.785-4907

Raed Othman (Arabic)

972(0)59.925-8704

Nasser Lahham (Hebrew)

972(0)59.925-8704

For the most updated information on Malsin's case, click here:

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=253864
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