Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Israel, Media, Investigation For Incitement Against "Indymedia" (Israel*) Closed Mar 8

The investigation was opened by [former legal advisor of state] Rubinstein following publication of a picture of Sharon kissing Hitler The state announced yesterday (Tuesday) the closure of the investigation case for suspected incitement against the internet site "Indymedia" (Israel). With that, the Assistant State Attorney for Special Tasks, Attorney Shai Nitzan, stressed that he does not view the steps being taken against web-sites as detracting from the freedom of expression but rather as a tool in the struggle against racism and violence. The investigation against the site's administrators was opened in December 2003, by order of the former Attorney General legal Elyakim Rubinstein, following publication of a caricature by a user from abroad, in which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is seen kissing with Hitler. Shortly following the opening of the investigation the Association for Civil Rights Attorney Avner Pinchuck contacted Rubinstein and called on him to drop the investigation against the administrators of the "Indymedia" web-site.

Attorney Pinchuck claimed that Rubinstein's orders to open the investigation contradict the recommendations of the Spanic Committee (a committee established at the Ministry of Justice, chaired by Attorney Tana Spanic, to analyze electronic trade), that internet service providers should not be held responsible for publications that are not their own in regards to everything relating to damage claims or copyright laws. "The investigation and the manner in which it has been carried out threatens to choke the public space offered by the internet and the public discourse occurring within it", wrote Pinchuck to Rubinstein.

Attorney Nitzan announced in a letter to the Association for Civil Rights, that after analyzing the finding of the investigation against "Indymedia" he decided, on the decision of the Attorney General Meni Mazuz and the State Practitioner Eran Shender, on dropping the case. This, even though the site did not go off-line, but moved to the global "Indymedia" web-site and appears under the link Israel.

With that, Nitzan stressed that opening a criminal investigation against the administrators of internet sites for incitement doesn't contradict the recommendations of the Spanic Committee that refer to civil responsibility only. In that, Attorney Nitzan denied the latest publications that the Ministry of Justice has lately contacted site administrators and demanded them to be more prudent about editing inciting and violent comments by users. According to him, there were individual cases where the Legal Department contacted site administrators following specific publications.

original publication in ha'aretz.co.il
* Ed. note: http://israel.indymedia.org is administered mainly by people of the Tel Aviv anarchist scene which include the core of the Israeli Anarchists Against The Wall/fence initiative]

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