U.S. Jewish Editors, Photographer, Subjected to Search and Confiscations on Recent Visit to USSR
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U.S. Jewish Editors, Photographer, Subjected to Search and Confiscations on Recent Visit to USSR

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Two members of the American Jewish Press Association and a free-lance photographer had their film and tapes destroyed as they left the Soviet Union last week at the end of the eight-day first Editorial Conference to the Soviet Union.

David Henschel, a St. Louis free-lance photographer who was the pool photographer for the AJPA on the trip, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that of the some 180 persons boarding the plane at Leningrad Airport, Soviet customs officials only searched the luggage of Joseph Samuels, publisher of the Houston Jewish Voice: Anne Shapiro, associate editor of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle and himself. Henschel said the Soviet officials destroyed negatives and erased tape recordings taken at a meeting with 35 Jewish “refusniks” in Moscow.

The Jewish newsmen were part of a group that included members of the Overseas Press Club of America and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. Henschel said that at official press conferences in Leningrad and Moscow representatives of the Soviet press said they wanted a free and open exchange. But he said when he and Mrs. Shapiro asked questions about Jewish emigration they received no answers. Henschel said that he had studied up on the Soviet Jewish situation before going to the USSR and had made arrangements to meet some of the Jewish activists. He said he met Mrs. Shapiro on the plane to the USSR and learned she had done the same thing.


Others at the meeting with the activists in addition to the three who were searched were Doris Sky, managing editor of the Intermountain Jewish News in Denver; and Milton Movitz, an amateur photographer from St. Louis. They were not searched and returned with tape and film, according to Henschel. Henschel noted that many of the non-Jewish journalists after viewing the search at Leningrad Airport said they now realized for the first time the ordeal of Soviet Jews.

Robert A. Cohn, editor of the St. Louis Jewish Light and president of the AJPA, told the JTA the AJPA is investigating these incidents as well as the last minute refusal of the Soviet Union to allow four others to join the press tour. They were Steve Lipman, editor of the Buffalo Jewish Review, two members of the newspaper’s advisory board and William Pages, public relations director of the Jewish Community Federation of New Jersey and a columnist for the Jewish News of New Jersey. The AJPA at its convention in Philadelphia last week adopted a resolution criticizing the Soviet action including the refusal of telephone and cable services to some of the Jewish newsmen.

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