Israeli to stand trial in India for carrying satellite phone

Backpacker Dor Gur not associated with drugs or any other prohibited activities, sister says.

By BENJAMIN SPIER
February 25, 2010 22:59
2 minute read.

 
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Israeli backpacker Dor Gur will stand trial in India on Tuesday for carrying a satellite phone without a license. According to Gur’s sister, the 23-year-old is not associated with drugs or any other prohibited activities except for illegally carrying the phone.

Gur was arrested on February 17 while trekking in Uttarkashi in Northern India, and was released on bail last Tuesday with the help of the Israeli Embassy and Gur’s father, who travelled to India following the arrest. Indian authorities are holding onto to Gur’s passport to ensure he won’t flee the country before the trial.

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“My brother is just a regular boy traveling with a satellite phone,” Liron Gur told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “and now he is waiting for a trial.”

According to an article published on a Polish news Web site a few days ago, a Polish tourist was also arrested in India on the same charges, but was later released with a hundred Rupee fine. Indian authorities told the Web site that they are cracking down on the usage of satellite phones because they are often used by terrorists.

Liron Gur said that she could not comment about the Israeli government’s efforts to clear her brother from suspicion.

“We respect the Indians and their system, and my brother too, but we really want him back at home, that is the only thing that is important to us,” said Liron about the upcoming court date.

Liron decided to go viral with her brother’s cause, and started a Facebook group titled “Dor is in prison in India- please help,” as a way to raise awareness of her brother’s situation and to request donations to help pay the legal fees.

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Liron said that the phone was given to Gur as a present by her parents; they wanted to stay in touch with Gur on his trip. She said that they had no idea the satellite phone was illegal in India.

During his week in prison, Gur told his sister that he was put in a cell with over a hundred criminals, some rapists and murderers.

“He said that the jail was the dirtiest place he’s ever been. I asked him how he passed the time in prison, he said that he didn’t know what to answer, it was really tough,” Liron said.

Dor Gur flew to India three weeks ago on a trip between the end of his army service and the beginning of his studies.

An official from the Embassy of India in Israel told the Jerusalem Post that there are laws in India restricting the use of satellite phones, but he could not speak further about the legalities of Gur’s case.

Noam Cohen contributed to this report.

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