Thursday, October 24, 2002October 24 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) joins the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in questioning the decision to prevent an accredited journalist from doing his job at last week's Francophone Summit in Beirut, Lebanon. "If it is true that Gideon Kouts was prevented from carrying out his professional duties because of his nationality, then this is an unacceptable attack on press freedom," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "It is all the more regrettable that this incident occurred at the same time as the Francophone Summit stated its intention to require member-states to adhere to democratic principles or face expulsion." According to information supplied by UNESCO, Gideon Kouts, a journalist who holds French and Israeli citizenship, was "surrounded by an angry crowd and prevented from entering the press centre" at the Summit on October 18. Kouts was accredited to cover the meeting for the French publication "L' Arche." But he was also accused of filing a report to an Israeli television channel, in violation of Lebanese law. CJFE endorses the words of UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, who said in a statement that it was "difficult for [Matsuura] to accept the imposition of restrictions on journalists seeking to do their work as reporters, regardless of their nationality and the nationality of the audience targeted by their media." Matsuura also cited the need to defend "the free flow of ideas by word and image" and reiterated UNESCO's commitment to "defend freedom of expression, a right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." CJFE is an association of more than 400 journalists, editors, producers, publishers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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