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Foreign Ministry Denies Charges That It Paid off Radio Reporters

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The Foreign Ministry dismissed Monday a report by The New York Times that the ministry had for four years been paying radio reporters to give Israel favorable press on radio stations around the world.

The Times reported Monday that radio reporters were hired by Avi Yaffe Studios and guided in their choice of stories by the Foreign Ministry, which contributed to the reporters’ salaries.

The free-lance reporters’ stories were broadcast overseas.

In an official statement, the ministry replied that “there are no journalists on the Foreign Ministry payroll.” The ministry said it had never made any attempt to conceal its audio information service, “which is described in the government yearbook.”

The ministry said the programs were distributed in the ministry’s name, but the ministry did not tell the journalists what to say, nor did it exercise editorial control over the broadcasts.

Nevertheless, the ministry said it suspended the operation before The New York Times inquired about the matter, “because the situation might be misconstrued,” and would not be resumed until the matter had been clarified to “the ministry’s satisfaction.”

According to The New York Times, participants in the program said dozens of radio stations with several million listeners in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States employed the journalists as free-lancers, without any knowledge that the reporters were receiving monthly salaries from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The article claims that the ministry’s money was secretly passed through the Avi Yaffe Studios so that checks were written on the studio’s bank account.

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