Freelance barred from occupied territories

A freelance journalist who was detained in Israel has criticised a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court not to let her in to occupied territories in the country, writes Sarah Lagan.

Ewa Jasiewicz, who was detained in Israel on 11 August, and her lawyer, Yael Berda, decided to call off the appeal after hearing that the judges were given information from the Israeli secret service which was not disclosed to them.

Jasiewicz, who was on assignment for Red Pepper magazine, returned to Britain on Wednesday. She will ask the Israeli ambassador for the secret evidence to be revealed.

When the journalist arrived in Israel she was refused entry – on the grounds that she posed a security threat – and then detained. She made several appeals, one of which she won, but the government requested that the case be reheard: the result was that she should leave the country. The final Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday concluded again that she should be allowed to enter Israel, but not the occupied territories. She was also banned by the authorities from talking to the media.

Speaking from Israel, Yael Berda said: “The idea of freedom of speech and press is so badly beaten in this country that it is dangerous. It is common law that the secret service can stop anyone coming over, journalists and the general public alike. We will keep fighting against this.” The International Federation of Journalists sent a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, saying that barring Jasiewicz from reporting was giving Israeli democracy a bad name.

National Union of Journalists leaders were due to make representations in a meeting with the Israeli ambassador in London on Wednesday.

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