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Seven employees placed under house arrest, material seized following police raid on radio station

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the 7 April 2008 raid on the Jerusalem studios of the pro-peace radio station RAM FM, in which Israeli police closed the studios, arrested seven employees and seized its transmitter on the grounds that it was disrupting communication between aircraft and the Ben Gurion airport control tower. After being held overnight, the employees were placed under house arrest.

"The methods used to close the radio station were disproportionate," the press freedom organisation said. "RAM FM's employees spent a night in prison and are still under house arrest because the station allegedly constituted a source of disruption to air traffic. The authorities could have dealt with this problem without going to these extremes."

The seven employees arrested on 7 April consist of three reporters, two disc-jockeys, a technician and the station manager. Their nationalities are Israeli, Palestinian and South African. They were released without being charged the next day after paying bail ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 shekels (approx. 1,770 to 4,400 euros) but were placed under house arrest for seven days pending the outcome of enquiries.

RAM FM continues to broadcast from its headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The station's lawyer, Asher Rabinowitz, said the claims made by the police were baseless. "RAM FM obtained a broadcast permit from the Palestinian authorities with Israel's agreement," he told Reporters Without Borders. "The station should have obtained its definitive licence on 8 April, the day after the police raid."

RAM FM was created in 2007 by a South African businessman with the aim of promoting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. A similar station was launched in South Africa to promote national reconciliation after the end of the apartheid regime.

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