Foreign Press threatens boycott in Israel

Jan. 13, 2011 at 8:50 AM
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The Foreign Press Association in Israel has threatened a boycott after a reporter said she was asked to remove her bra during a security check.

Al-Jazeera filed a complaint about what it called a humiliating check at an invitation-only event in Jerusalem, prompting the press association to threaten to ignore briefings by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if security procedures aren't changed immediately, Haaretz reported Thursday.

"In a democratic country, security services are not permitted to do as they please," the association said in a statement.

The complaint, filed Wednesday by al-Jazeera with the Government Press Office and the Foreign Press Association, said the broadcaster's producer was forced to wait more than an hour before being barred from entering the event while the reporter, Simri Diab, was asked by to strip, including removing her bra.

"I am not against a search and a security check, but I am against invasive humiliation," Diab told Haaretz, adding she believed she and her colleagues were singled out because they are Arab and work for al-Jazeera.

The Foreign Press Association said the incident Tuesday wasn't the first time journalists were treated in such a manner by Israel's security service.

"In the United States they also do security checks, but the difference is that the security people are not allowed to act in a humiliating, insulting and hostile manner," FPA Secretary Glenys Sugarman told Haaretz. "To hold people for hours and threaten them with arrest is unacceptable to us. It's terrible treatment."

Oren Helman, director of Israel's Government Press Office, said he will investigate the complaint and "ask for answers" from Shin Bet, Israel's security force.

"I regret the mishap," Helman said. "We acted so the entry would be speedy, efficient and convenient, but unfortunately the mishaps that occurred are not our responsibility."

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