Free speech is a problem in the Middle East. The chief English editor for the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, Jared Malsin, late of Vermont, has been detained at Ben Gurion airport, with a hearing set for Saturday. Apparently he was on El Al. Apparently he is Jewish, or half-Jewish. And has even gone on the birthright trip. (More at this site). Mya Guarnieri at Huffpo:
Jared Malsin, the editor of the English edition of Maan News Agency, has been detained by Israeli authorities.
Malsin, a Jewish-American who lives and works in the West Bank, was picked up on Tuesday at Ben Gurion International Airport, as he and his partner returned from vacation in the Czech Republic. After being subjected to eight hours of interrogation, Malsin was deemed a security threat and was slated to be deported to Prague Thursday morning.
Maan states: Hebrew-language interrogation transcripts obtained by Ma’an reveal that Malsin was deemed a security risk on the apparent basis of his political beliefs. Interrogators gathered online research into the journalist’s writing history, which the transcripts indicate included news stories "criticizing the State of Israel," among other allegations that he "authored articles inside the territories."
Although Bethlehem-based Maan is identified as a Palestinian news service, it is widely known as an independent media outlet–free of political agendas and noted for its unbiased reporting. As such, it is attracting a steadily growing readership, receiving over 3 million visitors a month.
Malsin appealed the deportation order and was scheduled to stand before a judge in Tel Aviv on Thursday morning. But according to Maan’s lawyer, Castro Daoud, the hearing has been delayed until Sunday for unknown reasons.
The Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement on the case:
“Forcing a journalist who has violated no laws to leave Israel and the Occupied Territories is unacceptable,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. “Israel cannot hide behind the pretext of security to sideline journalists who have done nothing more than maintain an editorial line that the authorities dislike. Israel should release Jared Malsin without delay and allow him to resume his work.”
It now appears that Malsin’s deportation has been temporarily stayed.