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Saturday Oct. 16, 2010 9:43 AM (EST+7)
Hezbollah tightly controls media for Ahmadinejad visit

Read more: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran, Lebanon, Shiite, Shia, media, press, press freedom, freedom of the press

RAMALLAH, October 16 (JMCC) - It used to be that journalists were able to roam freely in southern Beirut. Not so anymore, says Global Post reporter Heather Murdoch.

During the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, journalists were prevented from doing man-in-the street interviews and taking photographs of security officials.

About 50 journalists vied for enough space to get pictures and video, but I saw no one leave the cage to conduct interviews. Talking to people in Hezbollah-controlled areas requires express permission from the Hezbollah media office. Reporters are often detained for short periods of time in Lebanon by the organization and investigated for espionage.

Local journalists say the detentions are mostly harmless. But no one easily forgets that in Hezbollah-controlled areas, they are beyond the reach of the Lebanese government or foreign embassies.

While taking pictures from inside the cage, a security officer in a black suit with a plastic ear-bug instructed a local journalist to look through my camera. There were no pictures of the security officers on my memory card, so she gave back the camera and told the officer that it was okay.

“If you take pictures of the men,” she said, “then you have to give them your camera. Sorry, eh?”

Western reporters were once able to roam freely in southern Beirut. But since the 2006 war, things have changed. Before asking a single question on the street, or taking a single picture, reporters are told to turn in copies of their passports, itineraries and questions.

Read the story at Global Post...






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