Palestinian Journalist Retains Press Credentials Following GPO Review


The Government Press Office (GPO) issued a decision on 6 June 2002, announcing that it would cease internal procedures related to the case of Palestinian journalist Ms. Layla Odeh, thereby allowing her to retain her press credentials. Ms. Odeh is a reporter with Abu Dhabi Television. The GPO had revoked Ms. Odeh's press credentials on 2 April 2002, following allegations by GPO Director Mr. Daniel Siman, that Abu Dhabi Television was broadcasting false information and inciting against Israel. 

Adalah filed a petition to the Supreme Court on 5 April 2002, demanding the reinstatement of Ms. Odeh's press credentials. At the hearing on this petition, on 12 May 2002, the Attorney General's office stated that Ms. Odeh's press credentials would be temporarily reinstated pending the completion of internal procedures within the GPO. Based on this agreement, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition. 

On 31 May 2002, the GPO held a hearing on the matter of whether or not to revoke Ms. Odeh's press credentials. At the hearing, Mr. Siman claimed that Abu Dhabi Television had broadcasted allegations that the IDF had massacred 500 people in Ramallah. He charged that the station is inflammatory and subjective in its coverage of Israeli military operations. 

Adalah Staff Attorney Suhad Bishara, representing Ms. Odeh before the Supreme Court and at the GPO hearing, denied Mr. Siman's claims and asked to see video footage supporting them. Mr. Siman stated that such footage was not available at the GPO, but at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Siman argued that Ms. Odeh had failed to comply with censorship regulations. When Adalah requested evidence of this failure to comply, Mr. Siman countered that Ms. Odeh should demonstrate that all of the reports she had filed were in accordance with regulations. Adalah rejected this request, arguing that the burden of proof rested with Mr. Siman, as it was he who was considering an administrative decision to revoke Ms. Odeh's press card. At this point, Mr. Siman called a halt to the hearing, stating that he would consider whether or not to continue the process; ultimately, he chose to end it.