Janan Makhoul 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Israeli Arab political activist
Amir Mahoul was charged in Haifa District Court on Thursday with
espionage, assisting an enemy in time of war and maintaining contact
with an enemy agent.
Meanwhile, in Nazareth District Court, the
state served an indictment against Balad Party activist Omar Said, who
was charged with maintaining contact with an enemy agent and
transferring information that could be used by the enemy.
demand Makhoul be allowed to see attorney
Israeli Arab duo charged with spying
Most Arab Israelis are loyal to the country
Mahoul was arrested on May 6 and Said on April 24. The
court originally imposed a gag order on both investigations, which was
partially lifted on May 10.
The indictments contain many details
regarding the alleged crimes. According to the charges against Mahoul,
he met Lebanese-born Hassan Jaja in 2004 and continued to maintain close
ties with him.
In 2006, Mahoul learned that Jaja was a
Hizbullah agent. Two years later, he agreed to serve Hizbullah,
including passing on information. He went to Copenhagen, where he met
another Hizbullah agent who gave him a specially designed computer
encryption system and an e-mail address to send the information he
“The defendant returned to Israel with the equipment
and for a long period of time maintained encrypted Internet contact with
Hizbullah operatives and from time to time passed on different kinds of
information in accordance with the topics that the organization wanted
to hear about,” the indictment states. “All of this was done to help the
organization in its war against Israel.”
The indictment lists a
large number of topics that Mahoul was asked about, including
information on military bases, weapons and guarding arrangements, Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency) facilities in Haifa, Mossad facilities in
the Tel Aviv area, security in the Kirya military headquarters in Tel
Aviv and many other subjects.
The state charged that Mahoul sent
10 messages to his Hizbullah contacts that included information on the
location of the Shin Bet offices in Jalama and Haifa, with their exact
addresses, and the locations of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
plant on the Acre-Haifa highway, Mossad facilities in the center of the
country and the Nahshonim military base, which the indictment describes
as an American base, and the home address of Shin Bet head Yuval
Mahoul allegedly provided the operatives with the names
of six Israeli Arabs who he thought might work for Hizbullah.
to a senior security official, Mahoul was also asked by Hizbullah to
collect information on the security arrangements surrounding the convoys
of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
He did not succeed in this mission, the security official said.
also tried to use Mahoul to gather accurate information on the effect
its rocket attacks on Israel had during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The group was mostly interested in the targets that were hit by Katyusha
rockets, of which it fired about 4,000 during the monthlong war.
was charged with having met Jaja in Jordan and holding discussions with
a Lebanese man during a visit to Sharm e-Sheikh in Sinai. The man told
Said he was a Hizbullah agent and asked him to help the organization by
taking pictures of military, economic and industrial facilities.
to the indictment, Said refused, saying he was too old, had five
children and was afraid of being caught. The agent offered Said an
encryption device but he refused to take it.
Said was allegedly
asked if he knew of Israeli Arabs who would work for Hizbullah and
provided two names. The Lebanese agent then gave Said an e-mail address
and told him to send him more names. Said later tore up the address.
confessed to the charges in the indictment, but later, during a remand
hearing, recanted, saying he had been tortured by his Shin Bet
interrogators and was in great pain.
He was interrogated for 12
days without being allowed to see his lawyers, Hassan Jabareen and Orna
Kohn, of the Israeli-Arab human rights organization, Adalah – The Legal
Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Hussein Abu Hussein.
told The Jerusalem Post that
when the lawyers saw Mahoul for the first time on the night of May 17,
“we were very worried. He was in a very poor state, very pale and with a
yellow complexion. He was interrogated for many hours at a time by
several interrogators who came and went."
“For the first two
days, they did not give him a break in the questioning. He is 1.9 meters
tall and they made him sit on a chair that was 40 centimeters off the
ground, with his feet bound to the legs of the chair and his arms bound
and placed behind the back of the chair. This caused him severe pains in
his head, back, arms and legs. When he asked them to allow him to sit
normally, they refused. They told him to put his legs behind the legs of
the chair and when he said this hurt even more, they bound them in that
position.”Last week, Physicians for Human
Rights filed a court
to examine Mahoul and to be given access to his medical records. The
Shin Bet answer on Wednesday satisfied the demands of the organization,
a spokeswoman said.
Cohen said Mahoul told them he lost his concentration
and did not know where he was.
On Thursday evening, the Shin Bet
informed Physicians for Human Rights that it would allow a doctor
chosen by the organization to examine Mahoul.
The NGO was asked by Mahoul’s family to intercede on his behalf
regarding all health issues. Earlier, Physicians for Human Rights had
asked the Prisons Service’s chief medical officer, Dini Orkin Tishler,
to allow an independent doctor to examine Mahoul. She replied that the
suspect was being interrogated by the Shin Bet and it refused to allow
the examination while the interrogation was still going on.
It is not clear when the trials of Mahoul and Said will begin. The only
dates set so far are for hearings on the state’s request to remand both
suspects in custody until the end of the legal proceedings. The request
regarding Said will be heard on June 20 and the one for Mahoul the
following day. In the meantime, both will remain in jail.
The trial will only begin after the lawyers have studied the evidence
gathered by the Shin Bet and the police.
The lawyers are only due to receive the material next week, Kohn told
he Post. They will then have to
study it and at some point, the trial
will begin with the reading of the indictment and the defense’s plea.
Kohn added that after taking back his confession, Mahoul denies all the
charges against him.