Two Al Jazeera reporters were reportedly ejected from a convention of Christian Zionists in Washington, D.C. on Friday, according to Washington Free Beacon.
The pair have been identified as Matthew Cassel and Micah Garen. According to event organizers, they were initially denied press credentials to attend the Christians United For Israel (CUFI) conference at the Washington Convention Center, due to Al Jazeera's publication of an article by Columbia professor Joseph Massad, which was widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
According to a CUFI source, cited by the Free Beacon, “Upon discovering there were journalists reporting on the confab surreptitiously and without media credentials, [Cassel] was confronted,” the source said.
Cassel acknowledged that “he was with Al Jazeera English and was ejected from the summit without further incident."
However, “upon learning that he had a companion, [Garen] was similarly confronted by police officers and security... He was eventually ejected from the building as well,” but only after first denying that he was affiliated with Al Jazeera.
Instead, they purchased full-priced tickets as private individuals and apparently attempted to secretly film events that were closed to the press.
Upon being ejected, a confrontation ensued between Garen and the convention's security as the journalist attempted to retrieve his confiscated video equipment.
At one point, Garen threw his memory card into a trash can outside the convention center in an attempt to avoid them being confiscated, after which a scuffle ensued.
In a statement, a CUFI spokesman called the incident "unfortunate," and said that he hoped "for a more professional interaction with Al Jazeera in the future."
An eyewitness described the confrontation outside the conference:
“As I approached the convention center, walking south on 9th street, I saw what at first I thought was someone having a psychotic episode.
“There were four D.C. police officers trying to restrain and subdue a man who was violently trying to break free... I thought the cops were going to taser him - they certainly would have been justified.”
Describing the moment in which Garen attempted to retrieve his memory card, he continued, “At one point he broke partially free and lunged at a blue trash can but was dragged off of it. Eventually the police restrained him and escorted him away. I don’t know why he thought he was going to win in a fight against four cops. It never works out that way.”
Cassel is a photojournalist with Al Jazeera English and Garen is a co-founder of Four Corners Media.