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Israeli lawmaker: Palestinian journalist for Iranian TV 'enemy agent'

November 16, 2011 | 11:54 am

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Is he a journalist providing Iranians with news, or an agent transmitting information to the enemy?

Ibrahim Husseini is hardly a covert operator -- the entire audience of the English-language PressTV in Iran knows he's in Israel.

However, the channel, which is run by the Iranian government and not readily accessible in Israel, is apparently not that popular with Israeli politicians.

When Husseini asked hard-line lawmaker Aryeh Eldad for an interview, Eldad's initial surprise at the work Husseini was doing quickly switched to outrage. He turned to the attorney general to look into Husseini's activities and consider legal action.

"This meets the definition of  'an enemy state agent' precisely," Eldad told Israel Radio.

According to an Israel Radio report on the journalist/spy controversy, Husseini, an East Jerusalem Palestinian, has worked freely for the station for more than a year -- and he's  not the first correspondent for the station in Israel.

Oren Helman, director of the Government Press Office, told Israel Radio in an interview that there don't appear to be legal grounds for banning Husseini's work for the Iranian station, but he added that his office would forward any legal questions to relevant authorities.

Husseini was quoted as saying that he didn't understand what the fuss was about, because not only does his work not harm anyone, but sometimes it even "promotes understanding."

Yet there is a sort-of precedent for Eldad's position.

During Israel's military assault in Gaza, known locally as Operation Cast Lead, two journalists said to work for Iranian media were arrested by Israeli authorities  -- not so much for working for an Iranian outlet but for violating the tight censorship imposed by reporting that the army had begun its ground offensive in real time. The two were picked up after being "outed" on Israeli television by a local veteran reporter.  

They were charged with transmitting information to the enemy in a time of war, but their jail sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court.

-- Batsheva Sobelman

Video: A report by Palestinian journalist Ibrahim Husseini for Iran's PressTV in August. Credit: PressTVmobile /YouTube

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