January 13, 2011
Complaint filed over Al Jazeera producer’s security check
After a pregnant Al Jazeera producer was asked to remove her bra during a security check, the Foreign Press Association in Israel is threatening to boycott news briefings.
Najwan Simri Diab underwent a security check Tuesday in order to attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annual briefing with the foreign press in Jerusalem.
She said she was taken aside and asked first to remove her coat and her shirt, and then her bra, or she would not be permitted to attend the event.
Diab, who grew up in an Arab village in northern Israel and now lives in the Beit Safafa neighborhood of Jerusalem, has an official government press card and was invited to the event. She has worked for Al Jazeera in Israel for the past eight years and has attended the briefing in previous years.
Diab told Ynet that Arab journalists were singled out for a more rigorous security check.
On Wednesday, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera filed a complaint with Israel’s Government Press Office and the Foreign Press association over the security check.
The Foreign Press Association released a statement Wednesday about the incident, saying that “The Foreign Press Association is outraged over the treatment members received at the hands of Israeli security personnel during Tuesday night’s invitation-only gathering with the prime minister. While we appreciate the need for security, it is not remotely acceptable to invite people for cocktails at a five-star hotel and then make them undress at the door.”
The Shin Bet responded in a statement.
“All those invited to the event were checked in keeping with the accepted security procedures for such an event,” the Israeli security service said. “Three journalists refused to be checked under these procedures and chose not to take part in the event.”