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French journalist who is Jewish denied visa

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the Saudi government's refusal to issue a visa to French journalist Gideon Kouts, a contributor to the French monthly "L'Arche" and Israeli television's Channel Two. "Saudi Arabia's discrimination against journalists who work for Israeli media is unacceptable," the organisation said.

Kouts, who is Jewish, was notified on 10 January 2008 that he had been denied a visa to cover French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Saudi Arabia. A member of the Presidential Press Association, he accompanied Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, on a visit to Saudi Arabia in March 2006.
In a similar case, Israeli journalist Orly Azoulay of the daily "Yediot Aharonot" was initially refused a visa to accompany UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on a visit to Saudi Arabia in March 2007. She finally got a visa after Ban personally intervened.
In 2002, Kouts was barred from a news conference in Lebanon while covering a Francophone summit that Chirac was attending (see IFEX alert of 24 October 2002).

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