Israeli Court orders Gaza Power Plant's Abu Sisi to stay in jail seven more days

Haarez’s Yossi Melman reported tonight that a Petah Tikvah court judge has ordered that Gaza Power Plant’s Deputy Director of Operations, Dirar Abu Sisi, to remain in jail another seven days (at least) — at the request of the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet – responsible for intelligence about internal security in Israel) and the Israeli Police.

Melman wrote that “The extension of Abu Sisi’s remand was made possible after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein granted the security service special permission to issue the request. Weinstein’s permission is necessary in any case of a request to extend the remand beyond 30 days”.

Melman added: “At the request of the Shin Bet security service and the State Prosecutor’s Office, a comprehensive gag order was issued at the time of Abu Sisi’s arrest, around a month ago. About 10 days ago the order was modified to permit the publication in Israel of details already reported in the foreign media”. Melman’s report in Haaretz can be read in full here.

The gag order was modified by the Petah Tikvah court in response to a petition from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Abu Sisi was in Ukraine since 18 January in connection with his application for citizenship, filed by his wife, a Ukranian citizen. A month later, he was grabbed while on a train to Kiev, and flown to Israel by men he said identified themselves as agents of Mossad, Israel’s external spy service, He told an Israeli lawyer representing the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) that he was denied access to a lawyer for his first 14 days in Israel, and then for another 11 days.

No charges have yet been filed against Abu Sisi.

UPDATE: Richard Silverstein, who broke the story about Abu Sisi’s kidnapping/extradition from Ukraine to Israel, wrote here that Abu Sisi’s attorney, Smardar Ben Natan, told him that “The state came today with a request to extend the detention in additional 8 days, this was supported by an approval of the senior state attorney, Shay Nitzan, and with the explanation that the prosecution went through the evidence material and asked for 8 additional actions in order to complete the investigation. We argued that if the state does not have enough evidence after 34 days of interrogation, where they should have had evidence to justify the outrageous arrest even before [it occurred], Derar should be released and returned to Ukraine. They were trying to justify the arrest by making him confess [to their] accusations. The court allowed the detention until next Thursday. Derar looked very tired and complained that he can’t stand it anymore and that they are just repeating the same questions over and over again, and trying to break him”.

Silverstein himself asks: “So let’s say Dirar is the worst you can conceive. If you want to kidnap him and render him to Israel wouldn’t you have a case against him before doing so? In what kind of legal system do you arrest someone before having such a case built, and then attempt to figure out what to charge him with based on what he tells you during interrogation? And let’s say he tells you something new you didn’t know during interrogation. Surely, you can file a basic charge and then amplify it with what you learn later. The fact that they have refused to file any charge at all is outrageous. The fact that they come and demand an extension is equally outrageous”.

In a later post, here, Silverstein adds: “It’s unusual in the Israeli legal system for a security suspect to be held longer than 30 days without filing charges. They’ve had Abusisi for 34 days. After that amount of time they still have eight areas in which the top government lawyer says he needs better evidence to prosecute. What’s wrong with this picture? The attorney general has also told Shabak that there is a wide gap between the claims levelled against the kidnapped Gaza engineer and the evidence he’s seen. This does not sound like a happy prosecutor”.

UPDATE: Ben Natan, the attorney for Abu Sisi, told CNN that “I hope that he will be released after these eight days. I expect that after these days, the prosecution might present an indictment. We plan to argue against the future indictment saying that the circumstances of this person’s arrest give him the defense of abusive process,” his lawyer added.

She also told CNN that Abu Sisi “is very exhausted after what he has been through. He sees the interrogation as meant to break his spirit and make him confess things that he did not commit. He was not part of Hamas leadership. He was holding a civil position in the power plant of the Gaza strip and this interrogation is trying to portray him as something that he is not”.

The CNN report, published here, added that “just why the Palestinian engineer was being held and what charges the Israeli government intends to bring against him remain unclear. So far, not even his lawyers have been granted access to the results of his interrogation, they say. ‘We know about the suspicions only generally. The material from the interrogation is still not being disclosed to us and there is a gag order over that, too’, Ben-Natan said after the Gazan engineer appeared in court on Thursday…His lawyer also argued that should it emerge that Israeli intelligence abducted Abu Sisi from the Ukraine, they will have many questions to answer to as their acts will have been in contradiction of international law and treaties between the Ukraine and Israel. ‘There is an extradition convention between the Ukraine and Israel. The European extradition convention applies and both states are party to it and the procedure which was going on in this case was contrary to that convention and to international law’, said Ben-Natan”.

CNN Editor fired for Tweet

CNN has announced/reported that “CNN’s senior Middle East editor, Octavia Nasr, has left the network after a controversial posting on Twitter about a Shia cleric who had longtime ties to and voiced strong support for Hezbollah. Nasr, who joined CNN in 1990, posted a Tweet over the weekend that said, ‘Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot’.”

This CNN story continues: “The U.S. State Department classifies the Lebanon-based Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization”.

Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president of international newsgathering for CNN Worldwide, said in an email to staff: “As she [Octavia Nasr] has stated in her blog on, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever … However, at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward”

CNN noted that “In her position, Nasr provided on-air context for Middle East events and monitored the media from that region”. This story is published here.

The New York Times posted the story, saying that “Despite her senior editor title, Ms. Nasr did not run CNN’s Middle East coverage, a spokesman said. She reported and provided analysis about the region for CNN’s networks. Her explanation of the Twitter message was apparently not enough for her CNN bosses”. here.

A report on the Mashable Social Media blog reported that “in an internal memo SVP for CNN International Newsgathering Parisa Khosravi announced Nasr would be leaving the company as a result of her comments, citing that her credibility has been compromised”. here.

So now, we know: in order to give context, she should have called Fadlallah a “terrorist” in her original tweet.

[That seems to be what is meant by providing “context” — but wouldn’t calling him “terrorist” be a violation of the obligation to be “objective”?]


UPDATE: Now we learn, from AP via the Jerusalem Post, that the UK Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy “paid homage to Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah who died Sunday, on her government internet blog.. This is published here.

UPDATE TWO: The Guardian reported on Friday 9 July that “Britain has moved to quash a row over its Middle East policy by taking down a controversial blog post by its ambassador in Beirut praising the late Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a staunchly anti-American cleric who was a mentor for Lebanon’s Hezbollah … William Hague, the foreign secretary, ordered the ambassador’s offending item removed yesterday. The Guardian has learned that Britain also downgraded its diplomatic representation at Fadlallah’s funeral in Beirut on Tuesday, sending just a second secretary. France and Italy were represented by their ambassadors. Guy’s comments drew outrage in Israel, where a foreign ministry spokesman said Fadlallah had inspired suicide bombings. The British ambassador had to decide ‘whether promoting terror and giving it religious justification can be considered a heritage to be cherished’, Yigal Palmor was quoted as saying … … Palmor was quoted as saying: ‘Sheikh Fadlallah was behind hostage-taking, suicide bombings and other sorts of wanton violence, but Ambassador Guy said he was a man of peace, and Ambassador Guy is an honourable woman’ … In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said today that Guy’s post had been removed ‘after mature consideration’.”

Apparently, diplomats have blogs on behalf of their employers, just as media personality do — this has been a required step for fast-track career advancement. Ambassador Guy’s blog is maintained on the Foreign Office website. The Guardian also reported that “Diplomats’ personal blogs, which flourished under Hague’s digitally aware Labour predecessor, David Miliband, may be more closely vetted in future”.

There is no evidence that Fadlallah ordered or organized any suicide attacks or “wanton violence”. He did, apparently, praise some of the attacks, after the fact. This, it seems, is what Palmor means when he argues that Fadlallah encouraged more violence.

The Guardian noted that “Fadlallah was as a key figure in the founding of Hezbollah after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, but both he and the group denied he was its spiritual leader … Britain has a more nuanced view of Hezbollah than the US and Israel, though it has proscribed the military wing as a terrorist organisation … British diplomats, including Guy, have contacts with its MPs in the Lebanese parliament, and with local officials in south Lebanon. Guy’s obituary described Fadlallah as the politician in Lebanon she enjoyed meeting most”. This was reported on Friday 9 July here.

UPDATE THREE: Reuters reported that Ambassador Guy put a new post on her blog on the Foreign Office website, dated 9 July, in which she explained that “her earlier posting had been an attempt to ‘acknowledge the spiritual significance to many of Sheikh Fadlallah and the views that he held in the latter part of his life’. Guy said she had ‘no truck with terrorism wherever it is committed in whoever’s name’, and that it was possible for Hezbollah ‘to reject violence and play a constructive, democratic and peaceful role in Lebanese politics’.” This is posted here.


Juan Cole has written on his blog, Informed Comment: “So help me understand this. Nuri al-Maliki, still the Iraqi prime minister for the moment, expressed his appreciation for the accomplishments of the late Grand Ayatollah Hussein Fadlallah … But when Octavia Nasr of CNN tweets the same thing that al-Maliki said, she is fired … The firing of Nasr is just a latter-day privatized McCarthyism … This is posted here.

Continue reading CNN Editor fired for Tweet

El-Baradei joins Egyptian demonstrators saying enough – stop torture

Ben Wedeman’s report for CNN today on yesterday’s demonstration in Alexandria [there was also a big demonstration in Cairo] against the death in police custody of Khaled Said, and against torture, is posted here.

One woman demonstrating told CNN that: “They want to tame us and they want to get us used to torture, even in the streets, and shutting up.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA in Vienna, now retired and returned home where he appears to be charting a new role in domestic politics, participated in the Alexandria demonstration.

The photo of ElBaradei below, taken during Friday’s protest, is from the My Name is Khaled Said page [it is in Arabic, Ana Ismi Khaled Said — it seems I can’t reproduce the Arabic script here] on Facebook.

The same site also shows the terrible closeup of Khaled Said’s bloodied face taken shortly after he was evidently beaten to death: in the close-up post-mortem photo, only a frontal view of his head can be seen, with blood running out from the side or back of the skull; his jaw and some of his teeth are broken, and a trianglular flap of his lower face is missing, from the lower lip down to the jaw line.

Mohamed ElBaradei at Alexandria demonstration 25 July 2010 - from Facebook

Continue reading El-Baradei joins Egyptian demonstrators saying enough – stop torture