Gilad Shalit release: Shahira Amin defends interview

Journalist Shahira Amin said she did not force an interview on Gilad Shalit

The Egyptian journalist who interviewed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit just after Hamas freed him has defended herself against Israeli criticism.

Shahira Amin said she had not forced the interview on Sgt Shalit, and that it was important to let people see him.

Israeli officials and commentators have questioned the ethics of the interview.

Sgt Shalit was freed on Tuesday as part of an elaborate prisoner exchange. Looking frail, he was interviewed just after crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

Militants from Hamas, one of them wearing a black face mask, were in the area as the interview was set up.

Afterwards, Sgt Shalit was handed to Israeli authorities, given a medical check and allowed to call his family.

During the interview Ms Amin asked Sgt Shalit if he would campaign for the release of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners still in Israeli jails.

She also appeared to seek credit for Egypt, stating that Egyptian authorities had mediated the release and asking Sgt Shalit why he thought the mediation had worked.

Unnamed Israeli officials later protested that the interview was forced on him and "violated all the basic ethical rules of journalism".

They also reportedly claimed that the interview violated the terms for Sgt Shalit's release.

'Compassion'

One Israeli TV commentator, Raviv Drucker, said the interview "wasn't the most sensitive thing to do", while news presenter Yonit Levy called it "borderline torture".

Gilad Shalit interviewed by Shahira Amin moments after his release

But Ms Amin defended herself in a response on Facebook.

"I did not take advantage of Gilad Shalit as Israeli media is reporting," she wrote.

"Had he said he wouldn't do it, I WOULD NOT have pressed him. I have all the compassion for him and wish him the BEST."

Earlier, she told the BBC: "I know that he was very eager to go home and see his family, but it only took a few minutes and it was important to let the world know that he was all right.

"It was important but I didn't force him into it."

Sgt Shalit was a 19-year-old tank crewman when he was captured in June 2006.

Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners, allowing most to go back to Gaza and the West Bank, in return for his release.

The deal will eventually see a total of 1,027 prisoners freed.

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