Israel's Foreign Press Association demands release of radio workers

Israel Materials 8 April 2008 16:45 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Israel's Foreign Press Association (FPA) demanded Tuesday that authorities "immediately release" eight detained employees of of RAM-FM, an English-language radio station which targets both Israelis and Palestinians.

The eight were taken into custody Monday, when Communications Ministry officials, escorted by police, swooped on RAM-FM's Jerusalem offices and confiscated equipment, saying the station was broadcasting without a permit.

"Notwithstanding the merits of the charges brought by the Ministry of Communications against RAM-FM - the FPA strongly deplores their continued detention in police custody and calls on those holding them to pursue the matter through routine channels rather than through this absurd imprisonment," the FPA, which represents foreign correspondents in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said.

A spokesman for the Communications Ministry confirmed the station was targeted because it was operating without a license, but a spokesman for RAM-FM insisted to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Tuesday that "we are operating within the parametres of the law."

The Communications Ministry spokesman was unable to explain why the authorities were only acting now, more than one year after RAM-FM first began broadcasting.

RAM-FM, a South African-wned venture which broadcasts from Ramallah and Jerusalem, was established over a year ago, based on a station which was set up in the 1980s to bridge the gaps between whites and blacks in South Africa.

The station says on its website that it "aims to promote bridge building and dialogue through contemporary music" as well as independent news broadcasts.