The International Federation of Journalists today challenged the Israeli authorities to "live up the expectations of a democracy" and allow a journalist they have banned from entering the country to have access and to report freely.
"It is intolerable that the country which claims to be the only democracy in the region is afraid to allow a writer access to the country," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary over the ban on journalist Ewa Jasiewicz, a member of the IFJ British affiliate the National Union of Journalists.
Ewa Jasiewicz landed at Tel Aviv airport last Wednesday and was detained by the authorities, who claim she is a political activist and that her reporting would not be objective. After seven hours of interrogation by Defence Ministry Officials she was told she would be deported, but she has decided to appeal against the decision. Jasiewicz, a correspondent for the British left-wing magazine Red Pepper, is being detained in prison pending an appeal hearing.
"There is no doubt that she is a bona fide journalist," said White. "It is outrageous that she is being denied the right to report on the back of absurd allegations of bias. Israel is violating fundamental rights of free expression and by doing so is making a mockery of its democratic credentials."
The IFJ says Israel should have nothing to fear from being subject to professional journalistic scrutiny. "That's what democracy is all about."
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.