Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Judge denies injunction for Jared

Soraya sends this disturbing item that impacts severely on freedom of the press:

On Wednesday night, Ma'an attorney Castro Daoud filed an injunction in a Tel Aviv court to delay the deportation of Jared Malsin, Chief Editor for the English Desk at Ma'an News Agency, the largest news network in the Palestinian territories. Israel's attorney general denied the request aproximately an hour after it was filed.

The injunction was denied with difinitive terminology. There remains a slim chance that a judge could overrule the attorney general.

Jared Malsin, an American citizen, was detained upon arrival at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv at 4pm on Tuesday, 12 January 2009. He was interrogated for eight hours in a detention hall at the airoprt during which time he had no access to a lawyer or his consulate. He is now scheduled for deportation to Prague at 6:05 am on Thursday, 14 January 2010.

US Embassy staff have registered objections with the Israeli authorities over Malsin's detention, which appeared to be politically motivated. Dutch officials, whose government provided some of Ma'an's initial funding in 2005, expressed similar alarm in a letter that the US Embassy passed to Israel from Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford, the head of the Representative Office of The Netherlands to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Israeli security agents have prevented Malsin from taking calls, and for hours lied to concerned US consular staff, initially denying that he was even being held. In what could only be explained as a retaliatory measure for Malsin's reporting in Palestine, his long-term partner, Faith Rowold, a two-year volunteer with the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, was also placed in a separate holding cell pending deportation. They have not been permitted contact ever since.

Nevertheless, foreign diplomats say there is little they can do in cases where Israel cites "security reasons" for denying a foreign-passport holder's entry, although it has yet to specify any allegations in Malsin's case. Israeli security officials, meanwhile, have quietly expressed concern to Ma'an over this latest exercise of power by the Interior Ministry.

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 Hakim Abdul Salah (Hebrew)+972(0)59.895-1151

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