Controversial Journalist Arrested in Israel Dropped by NBC
NBC News has announced that they have cut ties with a Palestinian journalist who was recently arrested by Israeli authorities. Mirvat al-Azzeh, a freelance producer hired by NBC in October, was jailed on Thursday for sharing four Facebook posts that were deemed to be inciting terror and identifying with a terrorist organization.
According to reports, al-Azzeh, who lives in East Jerusalem, had posted about Hamas' sneak attack on Israel on October 7, where over 1,200 people were killed. Details of the specific posts that led to her arrest have not been revealed, but police described them as "inciting and glorying the horrible acts committed against civilians."
NBC released a statement on Monday, stating that they were not aware of al-Azzeh's personal social media activity before hiring her. However, after being informed of her arrest, they have decided to discontinue her employment with the news network.
Before her arrest, al-Azzeh had been actively working for NBC News, with her most recent byline being published on November 12. The article reported on the dire situation at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where newborns were dying due to a lack of resources.
According to sources close to the situation, NBC did not find any issues with al-Azzeh's work for them. The news network has since cut ties with the journalist, but have not provided any details on the extent of her involvement with the organization.
— Eli Dror (@edrormba) November 19, 2023
Israeli authorities have stated that al-Azzeh "arrived ready for arrest" and cooperated fully with police during her interrogation. Her lawyer has also confirmed that she admitted to the offenses, and did not attempt to conceal her actions.
Al-Azzeh's detention was extended for four days after a Friday hearing, and it is not yet clear how much jail time she could be facing. Her arrest comes amidst a larger controversy with mainstream Western media outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, facing criticism for their hiring and reliance on journalists with past anti-Semitic sentiments.
This is not the first time al-Azzeh has faced issues concerning her work. In April, she shared a video on YouTube where she described being assaulted while working at a West Bank hospital. She also claimed that she later felt pressured to drop her complaint against her attacker and was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Al-Azzeh's LinkedIn page states that she has been a freelance journalist since September 2018. Her arrest and the circumstances surrounding it raise questions about the vetting process for freelance journalists, as well as the responsibility of media organizations in ensuring the credibility of their employees.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, the role of journalists in reporting on the situation has come under scrutiny. With tensions high and misinformation rampant, it is more important than ever for news outlets to carefully consider their sources and hold them to high ethical standards.