Monday, April 14, 2014
Israeli Palestinian journalist arrested after visit to Lebanon, case under gag order
Majd Kayyal, second from right, takes part in a seminar in Beirut organized by As-Safir newspaper. (Muhammad Sharara/As-Safir/Facebook)
Update: Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel and a journalist from Haifa, who was arrested as he was traveling home from Beirut last Saturday night, was released on bail on Thursday 17 April by a Haifa court. Police prosecutors originally applied for an extended remand earlier this week. They said Kayyal was suspected of visiting an enemy state and establishing contact with foreign agents. The foreign agents allegation was dropped as he was released, but visiting an enemy state remained as a charge. According to Adalah, Kayyal has been banned from using internet for 21 days, which Adalah is set to challenge in court. The gag order imposed on the case was removed several hours earlier.
Majd Kayyal a writer, journalist, activist, the website editor of the Adala Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,has been arrested on Saturday, upon his return from Beirut, where he attended a conference to mark the 40th anniversary of the newspaper "As-Safir".
Kayyal has frequently written for As-Safir and wrote about his trip to Beirut – his first ever – for the website Jadaliyya. Kayyal posted images of himself in the Lebanese capital on his Facebook page.
On Sunday morning in a closed hearing, Israeli police asked a judge to extend Kayyal’s detention for 15 days, the maximum allowed under the law. During the court session it was revealed that the charges against Kayyal are the crimes of contact with a foreign agent and unlawful travel to Arab countries. Judge Zayed Falah, a former military prosecutor according to Ali Abunimah, extended Kayyal’s detention until 22 April.placed a gag order on the news of Kayyal’s arrest and detention and ordered that all court proceedings would be closed. Abunimah published the full transcript of the court proceedings on his blog, which can be read here.
Falah also upheld the ban on Kayyal meeting with lawyers during his detention. Such bans can be extended for 48 hours at a time. During the hearing, an attorney for Kayyal – who had not been allowed to meet Kayyal – questioned the police attorney regarding Kayyal’s detention.
The police attorney refused to provide details of the supposed evidence against Kayyal, stating that details were in a secret report provided to the judge. The police attorney said Shin Bet had yet to carry out most of its investigations.
Israel frequently arrests and imprisons Israeli Palestinians who are active on behalf of the Palestinian community or Palestinians causes. Just at the beginning of this month a talk at Tel Aviv university by the Palestinian activist Mohammad Ka'aneh was rescinded after rightist groups protested that '' a convicted terrorist'' would speak. Ka'ananeh was secretary general of the Abnaa al-Balad (Sons of the Land) Movement en Board Member of the NGO Ittijah. He was to talk about the Day of the Land. Kana'aneh was arrested in 2004 after having been in Jordan, where he allegedly had been in contact with a representative of Hezbollah and with the George Habash, the Leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After a plea bargain he served 4,5 years.
Another notorious case was the one of Ameer Makhoul, director of the NGO Ittijah, who in 2010 after a trip abroad was charged with providing information to an agent of Hezbollah. He was convicted to 9,5 years after a plea bargain. A conviction on the base of secret material provided by the security services is almost 100% certain in cases like these. A plea bargain then is the only way open to do something about the severity of the punishment.