Foreign press boycotts PM event after photographer asked to strip
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Foreign press boycotts PM event after photographer asked to strip

Journalists walk out in protest after security guards demand EPA employee remove pants; Foreign Press Association slams ‘humiliating’ treatment

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister Office in Jerusalem, on October 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister Office in Jerusalem, on October 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Photographers for foreign media walked out of a press conference between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on Monday in protest after security guards demanded the chief photographer of the European Press Agency take his pants off for inspection.

It was the latest in a series of incidents where guards ordered journalists strip for searches at media events with Netanyahu.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for international news organizations, condemned the incident.

In a statement, the FPA slammed the “needless and humiliating body searches and urges the PMO [Prime Minister’s Office] to train its personnel to treat fully accredited journalists in a respectful and professional manner.”

The FPA said the photographer has Israeli media credentials from the Government Press Office.

“Instead of the usual procedure of going through the electronic security gate as he has done many times in the past, he was told he had to undergo a body search and strip. He refused the strip search and left the premises,” it said.

“The other agency photographers joined him in protest and left. The PMO later called the photographer claiming there had been a ‘mistake’ but by then it was too later for anyone to return to the event. Unfortunately this is the latest in a long list of similar cases,” it said.

Hebrew media reports identified the photographer as Atef Safadi.

Atef Safadi (Facebook)

In May 2016, Safadi said Netanyahu’s security detail demanded he take off his pants when he arrived to cover a meeting between the prime minister and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as a pool photographer. Safadi refused and left the press conference.

In January 2011, the FPA threatened to boycott press conferences held by Netanyahu after an Al Jazeera news crew was subjected to a lengthy security check not demanded of other journalists.

Najwan Simri Diab was asked to strip and remove her bra, and Shirin Abu Aqla was reportedly held for an hour and then rejected, Haaretz reported at the time.

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