Dan Rather's camera crew strip-searched in Israel

Dan Rather attends the premiere of "Shutter Island" at The Ziegfeld Theatre, in New York on Feb. 17, 2010. file,AP Photo/Peter Kramer

JERUSALEM - A crew for Dan Rather was harassed and humiliated by Israeli security officials, a producer for his show has said, accusing them of forcing the staffers to drop their pants for a strip search before seeing a Cabinet minister.

The allegations, made in a letter to Israeli officials that was obtained by The Associated Press, add to growing complaints about how Israeli security officials treat foreign media.

Andrew Glazer, an Emmy-award winning producer at Dan Rather Reports, wrote that the legendary anchorman came to do a story about improving Israeli-Palestinian relations pitched by Israel's Foreign Ministry.

Glazer said problems mounted after they arrived. He said they were held up for hours at security checks. Israeli soldiers barred the crew's veteran Palestinian cameramen — a Jerusalem resident — from accompanying Rather to a West Bank neighborhood. And then came a strip search before an interview with Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.

"Mr. Rather said that in his career, he had never seen a crew forced to strip prior to an interview — including the one he conducted with Saddam Hussein," Glazer wrote.

Reached in New York, Glazer acknowledged sending a letter to several people in the Israeli government, but he would not discuss its contents or say when the events took place.

Glazer said in the Jan. 25 letter that the team held advance consultations with government and military officials and had a good experience with Palestinian security officials.

Israel's relationship with the foreign media is often testy, with some Israeli officials accusing journalists of sympathizing with the Palestinians and disregarding Israel's legitimate security concerns.

Journalists' recurring problems with chaotic and intrusive security, at Israel's international airport and entering government offices, have strained relations even further.

The new director of Israel's Government Press Office, Oren Helman, has vowed to usher in a new era of cordial relations with the hundreds of foreign journalists based in Israel. His pledges have not filtered down to the security agents who inspect journalists before entering official events with top officials.

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