Crete releases Israeli woman arrested in custody dispute

Lia Koppel was arrested in Crete because of an international arrest warrant that accused her of kidnapping her children from their father.

A Greek national flag flutters as people visit a beach, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Athens, Greece, April 28, 2020. (photo credit: GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS)
A Greek national flag flutters as people visit a beach, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Athens, Greece, April 28, 2020.
(photo credit: GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS)

Greece released Lia Koppel, the Israeli-American woman who fled to Israel with her three children when her husband threatened them, on Wednesday, and she is expected to return to Israel on Thursday.

Koppel was arrested two weeks ago when she arrived in Greece after the US issued an international arrest warrant against her that accused her of violating joint custody and kidnapping her kids when she brought them to Israel.

Her release was achieved after her lawyer filed an appeal on her behalf to oppose the US extradition order. The appeal stated that "Koppel's jailing is against the principles of justice and fairness considering she didn't commit any crimes that justify extraditing her to the US."

"I would like to thank the Greek justice system that has once again proved that its principles of justice and fairness are a thing to be admired," said Koppel's lawyer upon her release.

"It is unfortunate that the American prosecution saw fit to come to terms with Lia through an obviously unnecessary request to extradite her when her only sin was that she escaped the US in order to save her and her children's lives."

Lia Koppels lawyer

 The Greek island of Crete (credit: Wikimedia Commons) The Greek island of Crete (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

What happened in the custody dispute?

The extradition order was issued as a result of a legal dispute that reached the International Criminal Court in the Hague where Koppel was accused of kidnapping her children from their father eight years ago. During the trial, Koppel accused the children's father, who passed away last year, of violent abuse against her and their children.

The arrest warrant was issued as a result of the lawsuit and remained valid even after the children turned 18. Koppel flew to Crete thinking that the issue was behind her but was detained and arrested when she landed.