Adalah Appeals against Israeli Government Press Agency Refusal to Issue Press Card to Palestinian Journalist for “Security” Reasons

Mr. Mahmud Alyan, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, has been a journalist in Jerusalem for over 16 years; today he works as a photographer for Al Quds newspaper. He has been denied a press card three times based on undisclosed "security reasons”.

Refusing to issue Mr. Alyan a press card infringes upon his right to work and his right as well as the right of Al Quds newspaper to freedom of expression.

The Israeli Government Press Agency issues press cards to journalists. Journalists without press cards are routinely denied access to various locations and official events by the Israeli army and police.

On 6 July 2010, Adalah submitted a special appeal to the appeals committee of the Israeli Government Press Agency following its refusal to issue a press card to Mr. Mahmud Ilian (pen name “Mahmud Alyan”), a journalist working with the Jerusalem-based newspaper Al Quds, based on undisclosed "security reasons”. The appeal, which was submitted by Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih, demands that a press card be issued to Mr. Alyan immediately.

Mr. Alyan is a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem. He has been working as a journalist in Jerusalem for over 16 years, and for the last six years, as a photographer with Al Quds. This is the third time that Mr. Alyan has applied and was denied a press card based on "security reasons". The Press Agency never provided him with any further explanation or clarification for the refusal. While an individual can work in Israel without a press card, Israeli army and police practices have essentially made the press card a requirement. Without a press card, journalists are prevented from gaining access to government and military press conferences and locations, and covering other official events, for example.

In the appeal, Adalah argues that without a press card, Mr. Aylan's work has been severely compromised. As his main work is to cover various events in occupied East Jerusalem and other cities in the West Bank, he is regularly denied access to cover political events such as protest demonstration and house demolition sites by the Israeli army and police despite his documents showing that he is a journalist working with the Al Quds newspaper.

Attorney Naamnih further stressed in the appeal that the refusal to issue a press card to Mr. Aylan is arbitrary, as no explanation or clarification was provided other than “security reasons”; as such, this practice amounts to a fundamental denial of Mr. Aylan's due process rights to challenge any allegations against him.