Case of detained British journalist Ewa Jasciewicz to be heard by the Israeli Supreme Court on
31 August .
The Israeli Supreme Court will decide whether to deport Ewa Jasciewicz, correspondent for Red Pepper magazine, in a hearing on
Tuesday 31 August. Jasciewicz appealed to the Supreme Court after Tel Aviv District Court reversed an earlier decision and ordered her expulsion from Israel.
26-year-old Jasciewicz had travelled to Israel to write a commissioned piece about the Israeli left. She was detained by Israeli authorities on arrival at Tel Aviv airport on the 11th August and was interrogated by Defence Ministry officials who told her she would be deported. Jasciewicz appealed the decision. Her case was first heard on 19 August. The District Court found there was insufficient evidence to detain her. But just an hour after her bail was posted by a third party the Israeli state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, who ordered the case to be reheard.
On Wednesday 25 August the District Court reversed its original decision, based on secret evidence not seen by Jasciewicz or her lawyer. The judge ordered Jasciewicz's deportation, stating that although she did not pose a direct threat to Israeli security, Palestinians could manipulate her "naivete". Jasciewicz again appealed and the case will be heard on 1 September at the Israeli Supreme Court.
Yael Berda, Jasciewicz’s lawyer, said the decision was "a total blow to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press".
The National Union of Journalists has condemned the decision, pointing out that Jasciewicz is a bona fide journalist who holds an NUJ Press Card and an IFJ International Press Card. NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner said "We find it bizarre that two separate District Court hearings can reach the conclusion that Ewa poses no threat to Israel's security and in spite of this Ewa is denied access to report from the country. The NUJ is funding Ewa's appeal to the Supreme Court and we will raise Ewa's case with the Israeli Ambassador in a meeting on 1 September".
Jasciewicz also has the support of the National Federation of Israeli Journalists, who said in a letter to Ariel Sharon that "The arrest of foreign journalists and the limiting of their journalistic work causes damage to the good name of Israel".
Red Pepper’s editor Hilary Wainwright said: "The judgement of the District Court admits that Ewa is not a security threat. It is now clear that the only threat Ewa poses is to Israel's moral legitimacy. This is an act of state censorship. The British government may have no power to stop Ewa's deportation, but they must express concern about an abuse of the freedom of the press. I call on Baroness Simons, Foreign Office Minister responsible for the Middle East, to make a statement censuring the Israeli action".
Israeli authorities claim that Jasciewicz is a political activist who "had been in contact with members of terrorist organisations". Jasciewicz admits involvement with the International Solidarity Movement, a non-violent organisation that stages protests against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, but denies ever aiding terrorists.
In September 2002 Jasciewicz witnessed the killing of Baha Al-Bahesh, an unarmed 14-year-old Palestinian boy, by an Israeli Defence Force soldier in Nablus. The story received considerable press coverage, in which Jasciewicz’s eye-witness account featured prominently. Jasciewicz believes that this is a factor in her incarceration.
Press Officer, Red Pepper