Independent reporting from the occupied territories under threat.
14 January 2010
For immediate release – updates on Ma’an website
Jared Malsin, chief English editor for the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency, was scheduled to appear at a Tel Aviv hearing set for Thursday, 14 January 2010 that will determine whether or not Israeli authorities will continue deportation proceedings.
Judge Mirium Solokov will hear Malsin’s case at 10am at the Tel Aviv District Court on 1 Weizmann Street. A verdict is expected at noon.
Update: late on 14 January
Jared is still being detained at Ben Gurion airport pending deportation. The deportation is being challenged in Israeli courts, and with a hearing scheduled for Sunday, January 17th, in Tel Aviv Central Court (though we still don’t know the time). His luggage has been confiscated and he is being held incommunicado, though he was permitted a brief phone call this afternoon during a visit by US consular staff. Our lawyer was denied access to Jared by the Israeli authorities today; we are hopeful that the lawyer will be permitted to see Jared tomorrow.
Malsin, an American citizen, was originally detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport at 4pm on Tuesday, 12 January 2009. He was interrogated for eight hours in a detention hall during which time he had no access to a lawyer or to his consulate.
Malsin was scheduled for deportation at 6am Thursday. The move was temporarily stayed when Ma’an attorney Castro Daoud filed an injunction, denied by Israel’s attorney general but accepted by Judge Sokolov shortly before midnight.
Interrogation transcripts reveal that Malsin’s detention was linked to his work as a professional journalist. Airport officials indicated that he was denied entry into the country for “failing to cooperate” with Israeli security personnel, and because he had authored news stories “inside the territories” and articles “criticizing the State of Israel.” The documents question his Jewish heritage, as well.
Shortly after it became clear why Malsin was actually detained, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a media rights organization, issued a scathing statement denouncing the detention and calling on Israel to reverse its decision.
“Israel cannot hide behind the pretext of security to sideline journalists who have done nothing more than maintain an editorial line that the authorities dislike,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the CPJ’s program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. “Israel should release Jared Malsin without delay and allow him to resume his work.”
Israeli officials, however, have refused comment, and have not publicly acknowledged Malsin’s detention.
US Embassy staff have registered objections with the Israeli authorities over Malsin’s treatment. Dutch officials, whose government provided some of Ma’an’s initial funding in 2005, expressed concern and are monitoring the situation. Danish representatives, who also provided start-up funding for Ma’an were also contacted.
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 Israel has yet to specify any allegations in Malsin’s case. Israeli security officials, meanwhile, have quietly expressed concern to Ma’an over this latest abuse 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.