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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Quashes Request for BBC footage of PLO

WASHINGTON (CN) - The family of a teacher gunned down by terrorists near Neve Tzuf, Israel, on March 24, 2002, won't be able to compel the BBC to produce unedited footage taken for programs on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a federal judge ruled.

"We can confirm that there is no employee, officer or other suitable person with knowledge of the relevant matters who works, resides or regularly transacts business within 100 miles of the location of the subpoena/issuing court," stated U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola, who granted the BBC's motion to quash the subpoena served on them.

The BBC is not a party in the case.

The family of Esther Klieman sued the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and several of the groups' members in 2004, claiming that terrorists belonging to the groups showered an armored bus transporting Klieman and others with machine gun fire from a nearby ridge. Klieman, a teacher, was struck in the heart and killed.

"Defendants carried out scores of terrorist attacks, murdering hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians and injuring thousands more, including ... the murder of Esther Klieman," stated their complaint.

During the discovery process, the family served the BBC with a subpoena to compel the British broadcasting service to produce a complete and unedited copy of its program "Arafat Investigated." The family also wanted unedited copies of interviews and outtakes of Ata Abu Rumaleh and Zakaria Zubaidi.

"The subpoena seeks a witness to testify and bring with them a BBC documentary as well as privileged, unpublished information obtained and created by BBC journalist pursuant to the company's role as a leading international newsgathering organization, and which does not go to the heart of the claims at issue in this litigation," the BBC said in its motionto quash. "Additionally, any knowledgeable witness, and accompanying documents sought, reside outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States District Courts."Judge Facciola agreed and quashed the subpoena.

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