Thursday, 15 January, 2009

Israel charges journalists with espionage

Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Al-Alam correspondent
Khezir Shahin

An Israeli court has indicted two journalists, who worked for the Iranian Arabic-language news network al-Alam, on charges of espionage.

Alma correspondent Khezir Shahin and producer Mohammed Saran have been indicted in an Israeli court for passing information to the enemy, Israeli Army Radio reported.

The indictment came after an Israeli court forced the two journalists, who hold Israeli citizenships, to remain in detention for over a week without pressing charges. Shahin and Saran were taken into custody on January 5.

Israeli authorities claim that the two journalists had violated censorship laws by covering the launch of the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip before the military had cleared the information for publication.

In Israel, all journalists must sign an agreement to abide by Israeli censorship laws in order to get government authorization. In this way, the Israeli military has the power to shut down media outlets or detain journalists when it feels their work may pose a 'security threat'.

Since the beginning of their deadly offensive into Gaza, Israeli forces have injured several journalists, including an Algerian ENTV network cameraman who died December 27 because of the severity of the wounds he sustained during an air raid.

A Press TV station in Gaza has also come under attack during the Israeli attacks.

According to Press TV correspondent Hamada Ghraib the building was targeted even though lights were constantly shining on the roof, marking the building.

The UN has called on Israel to halt its military censorship and lift the ban on local and international media professionals entering Gaza.

The UN says Israel must provide journalists from international media outlets permission to immediately entry into the Gaza Strip and allow full and independent coverage of events.

UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Kenichiro Matsuura has also urged Israel to respect the freedom of the press as well as UN resolutions which prohibit attacks on journalists and media installations.


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