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Israel arrests Palestinian journalist after visiting Lebanon

Palestinian journalist Majd Kayyal
Palestinian journalist Majd Kayyal

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UPDATE (Available in Arabic only): Journalist Majd Kayyal conditionally released on 17 April 2014 (I'lam Media Center, 18 April 2014)

I'lam Media Center strongly condemns the arrest of our colleague, Majd Kayyal, a correspondent for the Lebanese Newspaper, As Safir, on 12 April 2014.

I'lam sees the arrest as an infringement on Kayyal's freedom of mobility and right of employment.

We stress that Kayyal's visit to Lebanon was professional—an employee of the newspaper for two years, he traveled to attend As Safir's 40th anniversary conference.

I'lam Media Center highlights the Israeli establishment's practice of double standards in its relations with Arab journalists, emphasizing a national policy of discrimination: We have heard several testimonies by Israeli Jewish journalists recounting recent visits to Syria, Libya, Algeria, and even Iran—all countries labeled “enemy states” by Israeli law—which have not resulted in a wave of arrests like that of fellow journalist Majd Kayyal's.

I'lam Media Center further denounces the authorities' prevention of Kayyal meeting with lawyers for the first five days of his arrest. We note that the right of a detainee to meet with lawyers is a fundamental right of democratic legal proceedings and fair trial.

Kayyal was arrested on 12 April 2014 returning from Lebanon via the Sheikh Hussein Crossing after two weeks in Lebanon participating in the As Safir newspaper conference. He is facing charges of visiting a hostile state and communicating with foreign agents. When meeting with lawyers, he said he had been subjected to polygraph testing.

Kayyal, a web editor for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is 24 years old.

An initial gag order forbidding the publication of Kayyal's name, information surrounding his arrest and police court statements was rescinded after I'lam Media Center and Adalah Legal Center successfully petitioned the courts to withdraw the order.

In addition to our successful court lobbying, I'lam has circulated a petition against Kayyal's arrest for Israeli journalists, which asserts the professional importance of meeting with so-called enemy actors.

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