Friday, January 22, 2010

Reporters Without Borders questions Malsin expulsion

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday condemned the suspicious circumstances surrounding Israel’s expulsion of US journalist Jared Malsin, chief English editor at Ma'an.

“The journalist was expelled after giving up his right of appeal. This decision was taken in dubious circumstances in that the journalist’s lawyer was not present,” the worldwide press freedom organization said.

“Did the journalist come under pressure?” it asked, “It is reasonable to question the legality of this expulsion in the absence of transparency on the part of the Israeli authorities,” it added.

Malsin was detained on arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on 12 January and was interrogated for eight hours about his work and visa-related issues before being transferred to the airport’s detention center.

The Israeli Ministry of the Interior decided that he should be expelled on a 6am flight on 14 January, but lawyer for the agency, Carlos Daoud, lodged an appeal against the decision.

Then on 19 January for reasons that are still unexplained, and in the absence of his lawyer, Malsin signed a document asking for cancellation of the appeal lodged by Mr Daoud.

George Hale, a journalist at Ma’an, said, “It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge […]. Ma’an wants to be sure these events did not take place under duress.

“It is essential to clarify what happened between 2:30pm and 4:30pm on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

Approached by Reporters Without Borders, the Interior Ministry declined to comment.