New York, N.Y., May 4: In a letter sent to the president of Israel's Supreme Court, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the New York-based independent press freedom group, has protested Israel's continued travel restrictions on Palestinian journalist Taher Shriteh.
The Gaza-based free-lance journalist has been denied permission by Israeli authorities since 1995 to travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank to carry out his work as a journalist. The apparent reason for the ban is his coverage of the activities of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza.
Mr. Shriteh, a veteran reporter working for The New York Times, CBS, Reuters, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, filed a petition to the High Court of Justice this week in an attempt to have the restrictions on his freedom of movement lifted.
The text of CPJ's letter to Justice Aharon Barak, president of the Israeli Supreme Court, follows:
"The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization of journalists devoted to upholding press freedom worldwide, is writing to express its deep concern about the case of Taher Shriteh, a Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip whose freedom of movement has been significantly restricted by Israeli authorities. Since March 1995, Mr. Shriteh, who works as a reporter for The New York Times, CBS, Reuters, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, has been denied permission to travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank to carry out his work as a journalist.
"CPJ understands that repeated requests by Mr. Shriteh for permission to travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank have been denied without explanation. In our view, such extreme limitations on his freedom of movement constitute arbitrary interference with his ability to function fully as a journalist. Mr. Shriteh is effectively barred from meeting with current and prospective employers and gathering news and information beyond Gaza. CPJ has learned that the apparent justification for this punitive sanction is Mr. Shriteh's reporting about the activities of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza.
"Mr. Shriteh is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza. Over the past 11 years, he has developed a reputation for professionalism and objectivity in his reporting for major international newspapers and news agencies. In recognition of his distinguished and courageous reporting, Mr. Shriteh received the Freedom of the Press award from the U.S.-based National Press Club in March 1993.
"Freedom of movement for journalists is essential for the functioning of a free press. Denying Mr. Shriteh access to Jerusalem and the West Bank violates the most fundamental right of journalists&emdash;the right to "seek, receive, and impart information and ideas," as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We find unreasonable this long-standing restriction on Mr. Shriteh's freedom to travel, and respectfully call for its reversal so that he may fulfill his internationally protected duties to investigate and report news."
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