SA journalist expected to appear in Jerusalem court

South African journalist Mark Klusener was expected to appear in court in Jerusalem on Tuesday following his arrest, his wife Peroshni Govender said.

She had been told that he and other staff members were arrested for operating a pirate radio station. Klusener is news director of 93.6 Ram FM, based in Jerusalem.

“On Monday afternoon Israeli Ministry of Communications officials and the Jerusalem police swooped on 93.6 Ram FM studios in Jerusalem [it also has studios in Ramallah],” the station said on its website.

“The Israeli authorities alleged that Ram FM is operating without the necessary broadcasting permit in Jerusalem.

“The station maintains that its operations are within the parameters of the law.

“The legalities of Monday’s detention of staff members and seizure of equipment are being examined by the station’s legal team,” the station said.

Ram FM news editor Xolani Gwala, also a South African, watched the police raid from Ramallah on a monitor linking the two studios.

“We saw them dissembling the studio,” he said.

He said eight people were initially arrested, but that one of them, an administrative assistant, was released at 10pm on Monday night.

Apart from Klusener, who was the only South African in custody, the others still being held were the station manager, two DJs, a technician and two journalists.

On Tuesday, Govender was waiting to go into a court in Jerusalem.

She had been informed that her husband would probably be released under house arrest after payment of 20 000 shekel (R42 950) bail.

“It seems that one of the frequencies in Jerusalem is a pirate frequency or had not been registered with them [the authorities],” she said.

Govender said that, as the news director, her husband “doesn’t have anything to do with the technical stuff”.

She said that while initially denied access to her husband, she was later able to see him.

Klusener was held at a police station for four hours after his arrest, before being informed that he would be charged with operating a pirate radio station.

He spent Monday night sleeping on the floor of a cell containing eight or nine other prisoners.

Govender said she was prevented from taking him “some food and chocolate”.

“All he said he had had was two slices of bread early in the [Tuesday] morning. I was not allowed to give it to him. I wanted him to keep his sugar levels up.”

He was very concerned about his co-workers arrested with him.

Klusener’s lawyer had told Govender her husband was handcuffed and wearing leg irons.

Established by South African company Primedia, Ram FM is Palestinian-licensed, but broadcasts throughout Israel and Palestine and describes itself as apolitical.

Primedia could not immediately comment on the arrests.

South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday night that the embassy in Tel Aviv had not been advised of the reasons for the arrest, but would remain in contact with the Israeli authorities to seek consular access and find an amicable solution.

According to his biography on the station’s website, Klusener has worked for newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Sunday Times, and was a reporter for Bophuthatswana television and Talk Radio 702.

He worked for Swiss and French television stations before moving to e.tv, where he was senior producer on 3rd Degree. Klusener has also worked for a number of international media including the Scotsman, the Economist, Channel 4, Radio France International and Vatican Radio.—Sapa

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