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RSF condemns flotilla censorship

June 2, 2010 3:56 P.M. (Updated: June 2, 2010 5:13 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned the censorship attempts that accompanied Monday's deadly assault by Israel on a flotilla that was carrying humanitarian aid, 750 pro-Palestinian activists and several journalists to the Gaza Strip.

“We deplore this assault, which left a heavy toll of dead and wounded,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. “The journalists who were on the flotilla to cover the humanitarian operation were put in harm’s way by this disproportionate reaction.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to release the detained journalists and allow them unrestricted access to the Gaza Strip. The international community needs accurate information about this Palestinian Territory.”

“Hundreds of Israeli soldiers attacked the flotilla and the captain of our boat is seriously injured,” Al Jazeera correspondent Abbas Nasser reported in his last call to his TV station’s headquarters in Qatar before communications were severed.

Two Bulgarian journalists working for the Bulgarian television station BTV were arrested during the assault. Bulgarian news media identified them as reporter Svetoslav Ivanov and cameraman Valentin Vassilev. Aaj TV presenter Talat Hussain was also on the flotilla. There is still no news of him. The Israeli authorities have forbidden all the journalists to enter the Gaza Strip.

Israeli public radio reported in the course of the morning that the authorities had banned the media from providing any information about the dead and wounded, who were taken to hospitals in Israel. The censorship order was lifted at around midday.
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