IFJ Calls for Release of Palestinian Journalist Held over Protection of Sources

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the immediate release of Palestinian journalist Yousef al Shayib, who has been sentenced to fifteen days behind bars after he refused to disclose his sources for a story over alleged corruption in the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic mission to France.

"The protection of sources is universally accepted as an essential tenet of independent reporting," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "Journalists the world over will be outraged that Shayib has been sentenced for upholding such a basic principle. He has no case to answer and should be released immediately."

The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS), an IFJ affiliate, said that both the Palestinian Authority's Foreign Ministry and its diplomatic mission to France brought a lawsuit against Shayib, a well-known journalist in Palestine, following an article he had published in Al-Ghad, a Jordanian newspaper he works for.  He was initially held for two days by the authorities in Palestine who wanted to know the source of the information in the article, alleging corruption on the part of the Palestinian envoy in Paris. He refused to cooperate and a court ordered on Wednesday that he be detained for 15 days.

The PJS, which also condemned his detention, decided to boycott the Palestinian Authority's press freedom award and called on all journalists to follow suit, in solidarity with Shayib.

The IFJ fully supports the PJS' stand and warns that this measure is likely to lead to self -censorship and undermine public trust in the Palestinian media, thus restricting their ability to inform the citizens on their leaders' conduct in public office.

"Failure to enforce the confidentiality of journalists' sources will allow powerful figures to evade legitimate scrutiny," added Boumelha. "This is not only bad for press freedom but also for democratic rule."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries