Tel Aviv court delays Ma'an editor's expulsion
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The editor in chief of Ma'an English, Jared Malsin, was temporarily spared deportation after an Israeli judge in Tel Aviv reversed an overruled injunction filed by lawyers representing the Bethlehem-based news agency late Wednesday night.
Malsin was detained at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday afternoon while returning from the Czech Republic on holiday. After eight hours of interrogation, the Israeli Interior Ministry ordered him held and scheduled deportation for 6am on Thursday.
Ma'an attorney Castro Daoud intervened amid pressure from US diplomats seeking an injunction against the deportation. The request was rejected by the Israeli attorney general, whose own ruling was then overturned by a Tel Aviv judge, granting Malsin a hearing. Judge Miriam Sokolov will hear Malsin's case at 10am at the Tel Aviv District Court. A verdict is expected by noon.
Hebrew-language court records obtained by Ma'an reveal that Malsin was deemed a security risk on the apparent basis of his political beliefs. Interrogators gathered online research into the journalist's writing history, which the transcripts indicate included news stories "criticizing the State of Israel," among other allegations that he "authored articles inside the territories."
The security agents questioned why Malsin would have entered the West Bank if he were truly interested in becoming an Israeli citizen, say he "claimed to be Jewish," and allege that "he exploited his Jewishness to gain entry into the State of Israel." Among the specific grounds for detaining him were "lying to border officials," "here illegally," and "entered Israel by means of lies."
Shortly after it became clear why Malsin was actually detained, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a media rights organization, issued a scathing statement denouncing the detention and calling on Israel to reverse its decision.
"Israel cannot hide behind the pretext of security to sideline journalists who have done nothing more than maintain an editorial line that the authorities dislike," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the CPJ's program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. "Israel should release Jared Malsin without delay and allow him to resume his work," the statement concluded.
Israeli officials have refused to publicly acknowledge Malsin's presence at the airport or anywhere else.
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