Adalah Challenges Revocation of Press Credentials of Palestinian Journalists


On 2 April 2002, Mr. Daniel Siman, head of the Government Press Office, revoked the press credentials of two journalists working for Abu Dhabi Television, Layla Odeh and Jasim al-Azawi. Mr. al-Azawi is an Arab-American who had received his press card only the previous day; Ms. Odeh is Palestinian. Mr. Siman charged that Abu Dhabi Television is broadcasting false information and is inciting against Israel, a charge that is denied by the two journalists. 

On behalf of Mr. al-Azawi, Ms. Odeh, and I'lam Media Center for Palestinian Society in Israel, Adalah Staff Attorney Suhad Bishara sent a pre-petition to the Attorney General's office. In the pre-petition, Adalah claimed that Mr. Siman's decision violates the two journalists' freedom of speech, which is tightly connected to freedoms of the press and information. 

Adalah stressed that freedom of speech is essential in a democratic society. Citizens must be able to obtain information from a variety of sources in order to facilitate full and informed participation in the democratic process. Their ability to obtain information is tied directly to journalists' freedom of speech and ability to freely gather information, freedoms which must be upheld by the legal system. 

In addition, Adalah noted that Mr. Siman did not initiate a hearing process before making his decision. A hearing should take place before a decision is made to violate the basic rights of journalists, giving them the opportunity to defend their positions. Adalah further argued that Mr. Siman's decision lacked any substantive basis. 

Mr. Siman's decision to revoke the press credentials of the two journalists severely violates freedoms of the press, speech and information, as well as freedom of occupation. It intends to muzzle media organizations operating inside Israel, or to pressure them into expressing views consistent with the official Israeli perspective. Further, the decision discriminates against the two journalists for their nationalities and their views. Adalah demanded that the Attorney General intervene immediately to stop these serious violations of fundamental freedoms.