Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Freedom of the press doesn't sit well with "only democracy in Middle East": Israel deports U.S. journalist Jared Malsin

Israel has deported journalist and American citizen Jared Malsin, the English editor for the Palestinian news agency Ma'an. His deportation was reported by the Washington Post:
"Israel has deported an American journalist who worked for a Palestinian news agency. Israel's Interior Ministry said Wednesday that a court rejected Jared Malsin's appeal and boarded him on a flight to New York."
(UPDATE: The Washington Post has changed the headline of its story from "Israel deports American journalist" to "Detained American journalist opts to leave Israel." As Ma'an reports, however, "It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge after his first major success." There continues to be suspicion and confusion regarding the circumstances surrounding Malsin's deportation. Democracy Now! also reports on the deportation. ) Ma'an covers the case in more detail:
"For the first time in a week, journalist Jared Malsin was allowed to use his mobile phone on Wednesday morning to inform Ma'an that he was being placed onto an El Al flight to New York. He sounded shaken and confused. He said he did not know why he was not being flown to Prague, where he was expected to be sent, saying only that flying there "would create problems." He said he was in an armored vehicle that was transporting him to the airport gate. On Tuesday, Tel Aviv District Judge Kobi Vardi ordered that a hearing be scheduled to consider the Israeli Ministry of the Interior's decision to deport the journalist. Following the call, lawyer Castro Daoud went to the airport detention facility where Malsin has been kept for the past week to deliver the news. At about 2:30 pm, Daoud left the detention center and filed a motion requesting that Jared be permitted to leave the country while the hearing and case proceed in his absence. As the Attorney General's Office insisted that Malsin not be permitted to attend his hearing, Daoud argued that it was no longer necessary to keep him confined to his cell in the detention center. At about 4:30pm, staff from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv notified Malsin’s parents in the US state of New Hampshire that he would be on the next flight to Prague, even though Justice Vardi had not ruled on Daoud’s motion to let Malsin travel and still pursue the case. At about 7:30pm, Daoud expressed shock after he received notification that a motion was signed by Malsin requesting his deportation challenge be annulled. Justice Vardi has closed the case on Malsin’s deportation order one week after it was filed. Ma’an is deeply concerned that there was no lawyer present when Malsin apparently filed this independent motion, which was sent from the Ministry of the Interior and not his legal representative, who had just left. It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge after his first major success. Without jumping to conclusions, Ma’an wants to be sure these events did not take place under duress, and is consequently concerned that Malsin’s lawyer and parents were prevented from reaching him during the 24 hours before the deportation to clarify what happened between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Tuesday afternoon."