1 September 2004
Branch member ejected from Israel
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
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
The attempt to cut off my voice Ewa writes from detention
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
Guardian leader article 25/08/04
A personal bias Ewa in the Guardian 26/08/04
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
"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.
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.
International Federation of Journalists statement
Red Pepper press release
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.