Civil Service Investigating Complaints Against GPO Head

Foreign journalist accuse Government Press Office head of treating them improperly.

The Civil Service Commission is investigating foreign journalists' accusations that Government Press Office Director Daniel Seaman has treated them improperly and enforced the procedures for receiving a press pass in an inequitable manner, according to the commission spokesman.

Civil Service Commission Spokesman Aryeh Greenblatt said the investigation has been underway for months and is nearly completed.

"The investigation is in its final stages," said Greenblatt. "After it is completed, its findings will be transferred to the disciplinary department for a decision."

Seaman refused to comment on Sunday, saying he could not legally speak about the investigation.

Since taking office six years ago, Seaman has frequently clashed with foreign journalists in the course of his role as mediator between them and the state authorities. Several of the journalists have accused Seaman of punishing reporters who publish articles that are not sympathetic to Israel by blocking them with red tape.

Seaman has denied abusing his authority.

All the same, he has said in interviews he has given over the last few years that some foreign journalists, under pressure by Palestinian elements, cover Israel in a hostile manner.

In a separate incident, the GPO distributed an exit form to foreign journalists last week, asking them to report all their flights out of the country and the purpose of each flight before leaving Israel. The form, which the GPO says is meant to expedite the journalists' security check in the airport, has angered some reporters.

"It's like how it used to be in the Soviet Union," one of them said.

Seaman said the form was distributed at the request of airport security