Palestinian Authority Threatens Cameraman
Prevents Broadcast of Palestinians Celebrating Attack
(September 11-13, 2001)
An Associated Press cameraman filmed
Palestinians at a rally in Nablus
celebrating the terror
attacks in the United States September 11, 2001. The
report is said to include footage of Palestinian Police
firing their assault rifles in the air in celebration
as hundreds cheer.
The cameraman was subsequently summoned to a Palestinian
Authority security office and told that the material
must not be aired. Yasser
also called to threaten his life if he aired the film.
An AP still photographer was also at the site of the
rally. He was warned not to take pictures and complied.
Several Palestinian Authority officials told AP in
Jerusalem not to broadcast the videotape. Ahmed Abdel
Rahman, Arafat's Cabinet secretary, said the Palestinian
Authority "cannot guarantee the life" of the
cameraman if the footage was broadcast.
The cameraman requested that the material not be aired
and, AP caved in to the blackmail and refused to release
AP Bureau Chief Dan Perry protested
and sought assurances from the PA that "you will
protect our journalists from threats and attempts at
intimidation and that no harm would come to our freelance
cameraman from distribution of the film."
More than a week later, the Palestinian
Authority returned a videotape it confiscated from AP
showing a Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip in which
some demonstrators carried posters supporting Saudi
bin Laden. Two separate parts of the six-minute
tape involving "key elements" were erased
by the Palestinians, according to an AP official.
The Foreign Press Association in Israel
expressed "deep concern over the harassment of
journalists by the Palestinian Authority as police forces
and armed gunmen tried to prevent photo and video coverage
of Tuesday's rally in Nablus where hundreds of Palestinians
celebrated the terror attacks in New York and Washington."
The FPA also condemned the threats against videographers
and "the attitude of Palestinian officials who
made no effort to counter the threats, control the situation,
or to guarantee the safety of the journalists and the
freedom of the press."
Meanwhile, Israel is demanding that AP release the
videotape of the Palestinian celebrations.
Israel Radio reported Septermber 14, 2001, that the
Palestinian Authority seized the footage filmed today
by cameraman from various international and even Arab
news agencies covering celebrations held in cities across
the West Bank and Gaza by Hamas of the attacks against
America. The celebrants waived photographs of wanted
terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
Source: Associated Press and Jerusalem
Post, (September 13, 2001), IMRA,
(September 13-14, 2001), JTA,
(September 20, 2001)