Reporters Without Borders today deplored the barring of a French journalist from the press centre at the recent French-Speaking Countries’ Summit in Beirut on grounds that he had worked unofficially for an Israeli TV station.
Gédéon Kouts, who was accredited only as a reporter for the French Jewish monthly L’Arche, did an interview on 17 October for the Israeli TV station Israel Channel Two. The next day, Lebanese journalists accused him of not declaring to conference organisers that he worked for the station. Kouts, who has dual French and Israeli nationality and is the permanent correspondent in Paris for Israel Channel Two, was escorted back to his hotel by security officials and barred from the conference press centre.
"Under the 1971 Munich Declaration, a journalist is not supposed to use improper means to obtain information, photos or documents," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "However in some situations, they are obliged to bend the rules to gather the news. The Israeli media wanted to cover the Summit but because of the official state of war between Israel and Lebanon, there was no other solution but to try to get round the rules of the profession."
Reporters Without Borders notes that journalists visit Burma on tourist visas and that during the US air attack on Afghanistan, French journalist Michel Peyrard entered the country disguised as a woman because journalists were banned. The organisation defended him when he was arrested.