(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge on Sunday ordered left-wing activist Ezra Nawi released to house arrest almost two weeks after he was arrested as part of a security crimes case sparked by an Israeli investigative TV report.
Judge David Shaul Gabbai Richter rejected the police request to keep Nawi in custody an additional six days, saying that he doesn’t see any reason to suspect that he will tamper with the investigation or pose public danger if released to house arrest.
Police in court expressed intent to appeal the decision and said during the hearing on Sunday that Nawi is not cooperating with investigators.
The arrest warrant against Nawi charges him of contact with a foreign agent – a security crime – due to suspicion that he arranged for Palestinian land brokers to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority’s Preventative Security Service for selling land to Jews.
The arrest warrant from earlier this month also includes charges of drug possession, attempting to cause the death of a person, fraud, conspiracy, transporting someone illegally residing in Israel and possession of a weapon.
Nawi’s lawyer, Eitan Peleg, said in court on Sunday, “This is a political, not a criminal investigation.”
He also questioned police about the apparent lack of proof that anyone allegedly turned in by Nawi was actually killed.
“There can’t be a crime connected to the death of a man if after 2 weeks police still can’t determine the causes of his death or if the man is dead at all,” Peleg said.
Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Yoad Hacohen last Thursday cleared Nawi’s name for publication, saying in his ruling that his name had already been published and that, “Public interest requires that the hearings be open as long as this doesn’t harm the investigation or other public interests.”
A Jerusalem court on Sunday also released from custody left-wing activist Guy Butavia, who was arrested last week as part of the case.
A third activist, a Palestinian field worker for B’Tselem named Naser Nawaji, was arrested on Wednesday morning and released without condition by the courts on Thursday evening.
Nawi’s arrest earlier this month came after Channel 2’s “Uvda” investigative program aired an episode in which he was caught on hidden camera talking about how he sets up Palestinian land brokers looking to sell land to Jews, and turns them over to PA security. He can be heard in the video boasting about how they are later tortured and murdered.