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Noam Chomsky denied access to West Bank

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by the Israeli government's refusal to allow intellectual Noam Chomsky to enter the West Bank from Jordan. Chomsky was to have given a conference at Birzeit University, near Jerusalem.

"The Israeli government's decision to exclude a renowned, committed and controversial intellectual who disagrees completely with its policies reflects poorly on its tolerance and respect for freedom of expression," Reporters Without Borders said. "Any intellectual, no matter how critical he may be of Israeli policy, should have the right to express his views in Israel or the territories it controls."

"This decision shows the degree to which the Israeli authorities find it difficult to accept different views and refrain from adopting obstructive measures. Chomsky is well known internationally as an intellectual and should be able to travel and express his views freely anywhere in the world."

Chomsky arrived with his daughter Aviva and two friends at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on 16 May after setting off from the Jordanian capital of Amman. The Israeli authorities held him at the border for three hours before denying him entry.

Well known for his opposition to US foreign policy and an often harsh critic of Israel, Chomsky has frequently defended freedom of expression internationally. He has also called for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran and, last September, joined Iranian journalist Akbar Ghanji, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard and others in signing a letter calling for the release of journalists imprisoned in Iran.

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