Ex-Channel 2 Reporter Petitions Against Dismissal Over Shalit Letter

Suleiman al-Shafi was fired for withholding an unpublicized letter from abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Fired Channel 2 reporter Suleiman al-Shafi petitioned the Jerusalem labor court Monday, asking that it order the channel to rescind his dismissal.

A-Shafi was fired when Channel 2 news found he intended to publish a book about the negotiations to release Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas. The book was to include a previously unpublicized letter the Shalit family received from Gilad a few months after the abduction.

In an urgent request to the labor court, Shafi said he had given the letter to Channel 2 news a day before it was made public by Channel 10 and on the Web. However, Channel 2 news CEO Avi Weiss hesitated to release it.

Shafi said his dismissal was "a method to intimidate a reporter who is not 'well connected,' as other reporters who have written books have kept their jobs," and called the leading Israeli media company's "silencing" policy inexplicable.

Throughout his 16 years at Channel 2 news, he never had a contract, and was not restricted from writing books.

"Even if there had been such a condition, it would be inappropriate and even disgraceful," Shafi said in his request.

He said the dismissal stemmed from a "personal grudge against a respected reporter, bordering on discrimination and bad faith."

He had not been told the reasons for his dismissal or been given a chance to plead his case, he said, and asked the court to rule the dismissal illegal and unconstitutional.

Channel 2 commented that it has not received notification of the matter "and in any case, we don't intend to deal with an employee's personal affairs in the media."

A-Shafi, whose book on the Israeli government's efforts to release Gilad Shalit was scheduled to come out this week, received the letter from Gilad's father Noam, under the condition it would not be used before the book's publication.