Seven radio employees released after Jerusalem studio shut down

Seven employees of a pro-peace radio station were released from jail Tuesday, a day after police raided the station's Jerusalem office and seized its transmission equipment. The English-language station, RAM-FM, plays Western music and tries to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through its broadcasts. It is headquartered in the West Bank city of Ramallah, but has an office in Jerusalem and a local transmitter on another frequency. On Monday, police shut down the transmitter and closed the studio, saying the station was broadcasting without a permit. There are numerous pirate radio stations broadcasting throughout Israel, which are often blamed for dangerous disruptions in airport air traffic communications and interference in regular radio broadcasts. The Foreign Press Association, which represents foreign media covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, condemned Israeli police for keeping the journalists detained overnight and demanded their immediate release. "Notwithstanding the merits of the charges brought by the Ministry of Communications 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 - now approaching a full 24 hours in jail," a statement by the group said. The employees were released later in the day. Yehiel Shalvi, a spokesman for the Israeli Communications Ministry, said the broadcast interfered with airwaves and endangered airport communications. He said the raid was part of a recent effort to crack down of pirate radio stations operating in Israel. Raf Gagnat, the station's media consultant, who also hosts a morning show, said those detained included his wife Maysoun Gangat, who is the station manager, news director Mark Klusener and two reporters.