The last I’d heard yesterday night in the case of Jared Malsin, the Israeli judge had agreed to hold a hearing into the government attempt to deport him as a supposed security risk. This appeared to be a hopeful sign. But now everything has come toppling down and at first glance it appears that Malsin himself may have agreed to his own deportation.
The editor’s employer, the Palestinian Maan news agency released a confusing and somewhat contradictory press release which probably reflects the fact that the Israeli government whisked Malsin out of the country without any contact with his attorney, family or anyone. At any rate, this is what the press release says:
Israel to deport Ma’an journalist at 6:15am Thursday
At 11:30am on Tuesday, Tel Aviv District Judge Kobi Vardi called for a hearing into the deportation against Ma’an journalist Jared Malsin. Following the call, Ma’an lawyer Castro Daoud went to the airport holding facility where Jared has been kept for the past week to give him the news.
Daoud left Jared at 2:30pm and filed a motion with Justice Vardi requesting that Jared be able to leave the country and have the hearings proceed in his absence. Since the Israeli Attorney General’s Office insisted Malsin not be present for his hearing, Daoud argued that it was no longer necessary to keep Malsin cooped up in the airport cell.
At 4:30pm staff from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv notified Malsin’s parents in New Hampshire that he would be on the next flight to Prague, even though Justice Vardi had not ruled on Daoud’s motion to let him travel and still pursue the case.
At 7:30pm Daoud received notification from Justice Vardi that he had received a motion signed by Malsin requesting his deportation order be annulled, and that he be allowed to take the next flight back to Prague.
Justice Vardi has closed the case on Malsin’s deportation order…
Malsin’s parents have been denied phone access to their son, and US consular staff were unable to communicate when the journalist would board a flight.
Ma’an is concerned that there was no lawyer present when Malsin reportedly filed this independent motion, sent from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and not his legal representative. Ma’an is equally concerned at the inability of Malsin’s parents or girlfriend to reach him to communicate the situation
What’s confusing is the headline indicating Malsin would be deported Thursday which doesn’t correspond to any information in the rest of the release. I’m not sure what the attorney and Malsin were thinking in filing a motion to fight his deportation after leaving the country. This would appear to defeat at least in part, the purpose of the entire proceeding (though again I’m not privy to the thinking of any of the parties). It’s possible this was what set in process an offer from the Interior Ministry to Malsin to abandon the deportation order if he would willingly leave the country.
Of course, no one can know what happened when Malsin allegedly signed the order requesting cancellation of his deportation. It’s passing strange that the government allowed no legal representative to be present when this document was signed. Even stranger that the government whisked him out of the country without permitting him to speak to anyone. Of course, this is the type of behavior one would expect from a police state, a place like Iran or North Korea or China or Russia–and now, Israel. Mazel tov, Israel. You’ve joined the ranks of the most opaque violators of civil liberties and press freedom. And you get to argue thanks to this little shenanigan that you didn’t violate anyone’s rights since technically you didn’t deport him.
Though I hesitate criticizing Malsin before the facts are known, I simply don’t understand how he could’ve agreed to this. He fought the deportation for a week, endured rotten detention conditions. Then just before he was to have a hearing in his case, he abandoned the whole campaign. It just doesn’t make sense. It would appear that Malsin has been completely outmanuvered by the Shin Bet.
I presume facts will become clearer in the coming hours. But suffice to say that all of us who’ve campaigned on Jared Malsin’s and Maan’s behalf in this case are mystified, confused and disappointed that it ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Oh, and Israel, you’ve just reduced your rank 20 or so places in the Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index. This year, it was 94 out of 175 (150th in the Territories). Next year, the ranking should be quite a bit lower. So much for the Only Democracy in the Middle EastEast™.