RAM FM employees released from jail, charges follow

Radio employees under arrest since Monday for broadcasting without a permit, where they were granted a conditional release.

world peace 88 (photo credit:)
world peace 88
(photo credit: )
Staff members from RAM FM Peace Radio's Jerusalem studio, under arrest since Monday for broadcasting without a permit, appeared in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, where they were granted a conditional release, police said. On Monday, seven people were arrested, police said. "The investigation will proceed in the coming days - it's too early to discuss when they will be charged," the police spokesman said. The English-language station, whose headquarters are in Ramallah, plays Western music and tries to bring Israelis and Palestinians together. The Jerusalem office that was shut down by police on Monday operated with a local transmitter on a second frequency. The Communication Ministry cited a lack of proper licensing as reason for raiding the office and said the station was interfering with air traffic communications and regular radio broadcasts. "Just like if you were to build a home somewhere, you need a license," said Yehiel Shalvi, a spokesman for the ministry. "You can't just build where you want." Shalvi told The Jerusalem Post that after coordinating with police, a decision was made to raid the studio and shut it down. "They had a license from the Palestinian Authority, which is not connected to us, and operated in Jerusalem," he said. "We spoke to the police and they decided with us to close it." However, a source close to the station told the Post that their license was valid, and there was no need for two. "When you get a license from the PA, they clear it with the Israelis," she said. RAM FM said in a statement, "The station is operating within the parameters of the law, and the legality of the police actions are being examined by the station's legal team." The story was picked up by news agencies and headlines appeared around the globe describing Israeli authorities shutting down "the only voice for peace" and criticizing the arrests. The Foreign Press Association condemned the police for detaining the RAM FM employees overnight and demanded their immediate release. "Notwithstanding the merits of the charges brought by the Communications Ministry 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 group said in a statement. One of the released employees told the Post that he had been ordered to house arrest and was not allowed to speak about the details of the case for one week.