SA journalist released from Israeli house arrest

South African broadcast journalist Mark Klusener, who was arrested for allegedly operating a pirate radio station, was released from house arrest in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Rafique Gangat, a spokesperson for radio station Ram FM where Klusener is the news director, said: ”The house arrest of the staff was lifted at 10.01am today [Tuesday]. But certain restrictions remain.”

Klusener and six other staff members were arrested last Monday at the station’s Jerusalem studio and appeared in court the next day.

The station stands accused of operating without the necessary broadcasting permit in Jerusalem where it broadcasts on the 87.7 FM frequency — a fact that the station has denied.

Gangat said Klusener and the other employees were still not allowed to return to work or communicate with each other.

Klusener was ordered by the magistrate’s court last Tuesday to pay 25 000 shekels (about R53 700) bail.

He was also placed under house arrest.

The other staffers were also released under similar conditions, with the exception that their bail amount was set at 10 000 shekels because they were all Israeli citizens.

Gangat said that the remaining restrictions would remain in place for a further eight days.

He said he had been informed that investigations were still ongoing and did not know when Klusener and his colleagues would appear in court again.

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

”We saw them dissembling the studio,” he said last week.

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

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.

Klusener 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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