1 September 2004

Branch member ejected from Israel

Ewa Jasiewicz

Ewa Jasiewicz

EWA JASIEWICZ is on her way back to Britain. At this morning's Supreme Court hearing it first seemed likely that the London Freelance Branch member would be admitted to Israel but not to the Occupied Territories - which would have prevented her from fulfilling her commission.

Then the justices decided to see evidence from the security services without showing it to Ewa's legal team. Lawyer Yael Berda noted that it's "hard to imagine what could be in that secret evidence - what could be in there that could show Ewa 'could be used', as the lower court put it?"

In any case, agreeing to this procedure would allow the court to create a binding precedent which would, as Yael put it, "allow the secret services to prevent reporters entering the territories - which would be a real blow for all foreign journalists". Ewa therefore withdrew her appeal, to avoid setting this precedent and is in the process of being ejected from the country.

Human rights lawyers in Israel are now considering what further action to take. At the very least, they currently intend to ask the Israeli government eiter to show lawyers the "secret evidence" or to let Ewa return to report.

29 August 2004

UPDATE Ewa's case will be heard again by the Supreme Court on Wednesday 1 September (not 31 August). more...

Also on the Wednesday, the NUJ's General Secretary and others will go to see the Israeli Ambassador in London. Branch members will meet near the corner of Kensington High Street and Church Street for a photo op at 3:30pm, before the delegation goes in to the Embassy on Old Court Place, London W8 4QB.

25 August 2004

The District Court this morning decided that Ewa must leave Israel, but he lawyer gained a 48 hour stay to allow time for a renewed appeal to the Supreme Court. The Press Association reported that "Tel Aviv District Court judge Drora Pilpel said that although Jasiewicz did not pose a direct threat to Israeli security, Palestinians could manipulate her 'naivete'."

23 August 2004

Ewa had another hearing in the District Court this morning. It's not going to produce its judgement until Wednesday at 08:30 Tel Aviv time; by then she will have been in detention for 14 days.

Judge orders member’s release, but she stays in jail

A JUDGE in Tel Aviv ordered the release of London Freelance Branch member Ewa Jasiewicz on Thursday 19 August - but the following day, an hour after her bail was posted, the State appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court. On Sunday 22 August this ordered the Tel Aviv court to hold a new hearing. Ewa will stay in detention at least until that happens. The Supreme Court did not give any explanation for its ruling.

Ewa landed in Israel on 11 August and was detained by the authorities, who claimed that she was a political activist and that her reporting "would not be objective". After being held for eight days, a judge found that there was not enough evidence to hold her. This means, as her lawyer points out, that the "secret evidence" the security services held on her was "clearly no good".

The manoeuvre of appealing to the Supreme Court was "absolutely horrendous," the lawyer said: "a judge says there's not enough evidence to hold her, and then they appeal."

Ewa, who has reported for Red Pepper and Voices in the Wilderness, said in a phone call from jail quoted on Indymedia: "I feel frustrated, targeted, demonised. They're telling me how to do my job. "It's not enough to write a story about a situation or family, but I also must make change. I'm not just an observer. If I see a breach of human rights or international law I have a responsibility to intervene. "Democracy needs a plurality of opinion, a plurality of positions and voices. Attempts to homogenise public opinion or to constrict political expression sow the seeds of dictatorship."

The Israeli Embassy in London responded to the NUJ's press release condemning Ewa's detention by claiming that "Ms Jasiewicz has abused her NUJ Press Card in order to interfere with IDF [Israeli Defense Force] anti terrorist activities as a political activist for the International Solidarity Movement." Her lawyer says that the judge's ruling contradicts this. The Israeli Union of Journalists also issued a statement supporting Ewa - which it rarely does in such cases.

Press Release

16 August 2004

Union condemns Israeli treatment of journalist

The NUJ has condemned the Israeli Government for its treatment of journalist Ewa Jasiewicz.

Ms Jasiewicz landed at Tel Aviv airport on Wednesday and was detained by the authorities, who claim she is not a journalist but a political activist and that her reporting would not be objective.

She was interrogated by Defence Ministry Officials for seven hours. They told her she would be deported on Sunday morning, but she has decided to appeal against this.

Ewa is being detained in prison pending an appeal hearing.

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner said: "Ewa Jasiewicz is a bona fide journalist who has travelled to Israeli to research a story. She holds an NUJ Press Card and an IFJ International Press Card, and it is outrageous that she should be treated in this way.

"It is not acceptable that a supposedly democratic country should refuse entry to a journalist because they find her work objectionable. This amounts to state censorship, and we call on the UK Government to intervene."

London Freelance Branch statement to the Ambassador

We, the committee of London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists, which represents over 3000 journalists, are concerned to learn that a member of our union, Ewa Jasiewicz, was refused entry to Israel on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday August 11, while seeking to go about her legitimate journalistic business. It is also a matter of concern that she is reported to be detained in jail while her appeal against this decision is reviewed.

We understand that your government has stated that Ewa is being denied entry to Israel on the grounds that her reporting is 'not objective'. Any serious consideration of journalism must surely accept that any opinion of the "objectivity" of any report must inevitably be subjective. This is why such criteria must surely not be applied when regulating journalism in a democratic society. If journalists are to be excluded because of the content of their reporting is inconvenient to governments then we believe that state censorship has begun to oust freedom of speech and of the media.

We hope that Ms Jasiewicz's case will be reassessed and the threat to deport her lifted. We also hope that if what she has experienced represents a new policy towards international media, that it will also be quickly reviewed and changed. She is a bona fide journalist, a member of both this union and the International Federation of Journalists and should be permitted to go about her legitimate work.

Red Pepper press release


Case of detained British journalist Ewa Jasciewicz to be heard by the Israeli Supreme Court on 31 August 1 September.

The Israeli Supreme Court will decide whether to deport Ewa Jasciewicz, correspondent for Red Pepper magazine, in a hearing on Wednesday 1 September 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.

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