The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organisation of journalists, today joined with Palestinian journalists in demanding that Palestinian security services respect journalists' rights after a reporter was detained and questioned over his sources in a television interview linked to this week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
The reporter, Saifeddin Shahin, is the Gaza correspondent for the Qatari-based TV station Al Jazeera, had broadcast a telephone interview with a person claiming to be a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, taking responsibility for the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv on January 5. According to the Palestine Journalists Syndicate, a member of the IFJ, the reporter was asked questions about the interview, and about his sources. He was released the next day.
"While we welcome his release, we share the fears of Palestinian journalists that they are being put under unacceptable pressure by the authorities," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. " We condemn this sort of pressure on journalists. If journalists are forced to reveal their sources then information available to the public will diminish and that will have a devastating effect on press freedom and the people's right to know in the midst of this crisis."
The IFJ says that counter-terrorism strategies are urgently needed to bring peace to the region, but putting pressure on journalists will not end the violence. "Journalists are caught in the middle of this conflict and it is Palestinian journalists who suffer most. They must be free to work without fear of intimidation or undue pressure from the authorities," said Aidan White.
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.