News Blackout in Israel_ (4.6.10)

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Comment by zmurdnunoc on April 7, 2010 at 7:46pm
Israeli gagging order condemned

Campaigning organisations have called for the lifting of an Israeli media ban on the case of a former soldier.

Anat Kam, 23, is said to be under investigation for various security offences, including leaking classified military information.

Ms Kam is alleged to have obtained documents concerning apparently extra-judicial killings of Palestinian militants.

She has reportedly been under house arrest since December.

In Israel - as a result of the court-ordered gag - it has become known only as "the security case".

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Israeli public are being denied their basic right to information on trials and events taking place in their midst.

"Whatever the rationale for the order...it seems its only purpose is to violate Israelis' right to information, hinder freedom of the press and stymie public debate on the case" ACRI's Chief Legal Counsel, Dan Yakir, said.

"Defence of national security is a legitimate objective but censorship must not be used to prevent the Israeli defence forces from being held responsible if they broke the law," the Paris-based media freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said.

Trial expected

Anat Kam has worked for the Israeli news website Walla.

Reports that have already been published outside Israel say that while she was a soldier doing her national service she is alleged to have obtained classified military documents and leaked them to an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

Speculation has focused around an investigative report in Haaretz in November 2008. This claimed that Israeli forces in the West Bank had breached new rules on the targeting of suspected Palestinian militants, which required that efforts should be made first to arrest rather than kill them. Specifically at issue was the killing of two leaders of Islamic Jihad, which an Israeli defence forces spokesman had said happened only after the men fired at security personnel.

Some of the reports circulating outside Israel say that Anat Kam is expected to go on trial later this month.

Haaretz and an Israeli television channel are planning to challenge the gag on Israeli media coverage of Anat Kam's case in court.

Dalia Dorner, a former Supreme Court judge who now heads Israel's Press Council, said it seemed ridiculous to persist with a gag order when the case was being openly discussed in global media outlets.

Legal restrictions have been imposed on journalists reporting this story from Israel, so this article has been compiled from London.

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