[Marxism] American professor is accused of spying for Hezbollah and Iran
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 27 07:25:07 MDT 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
American Professor Detained in Israel Is Suspected of Spying for Hezbollah
By HAIM WATZMAN
The case of Ghazi Falah, the geography professor from the University of
Akron who has been under arrest in Israel since July 8, took a new turn on
Wednesday, when an Israeli court removed a gag order that had forbidden his
lawyer to speak to the press. According to a statement made in court by the
security agency in charge of the case, Mr. Falah is under investigation for
engaging in espionage in the service of Israel's enemies.
The gag order, which also forbade the Israeli press to report the arrest,
was lifted in response to a lawsuit filed by Ha'aretz, an Israeli daily
newspaper. Ha'aretz identified the enemies Falah is accused of spying for
as Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, and Iran.
Mr. Falah, an Arab who holds dual Canadian-Israeli citizenship, arrived in
Israel three days before his arrest. According to his son, Naail, he made
an unplanned visit to the country of his birth when he learned that his
mother, who still lives here, had been hospitalized with a brain tumor.
Hussein Abu-Hussein, Mr. Falah's lawyer, confirmed that Mr. Falah had been
arrested while taking photographs at Rosh ha Niqra, an Israeli tourist site
and post on the Lebanese border, where a naval base is also located.
When a security guard at the site told him to stop taking pictures, Mr.
Falah began arguing with the guard, who called the police, Mr. Abu-Hussein
said. Mr. Falah told the police that he was taking photographs of the
border area in preparation for a conference he is organizing on Israel's
borders. He also said that he had taken similar pictures on the other side
of the border on an earlier trip to Lebanon. And he said that he had
visited Tehran in an academic capacity.
Mr. Abu-Hussein said that Mr. Falah's argument with the security guard had
been "a momentary act of foolishness." He also said that, when the police
examined the pictures he had taken, they found that one included an antenna
from a military installation in Nahariyya, a city just to the south of Rosh
ha Niqra. Mr. Falah said that he had not realized that the antenna was a
In a statement to Ha'aretz, Mr. Falah said, "I have never made any
connections, secret or illegal, with intelligence or terror sources."
Mr. Abu-Hussein also noted that Mr. Falah had been arrested four days
before the recent hostilities broke out between Israel and Hezbollah.
He said that the court had extended the arrest of Mr. Falah, who has not
yet been charged with any crime, until Sunday. But a district-court panel
will hear an appeal on Thursday. Mr. Abu-Hussein said he expected that Mr.
Falah would be released shortly.
Naail Falah and some of Mr. Falah's academic colleagues have been
conducting a public campaign calling for his release.
Paul Herold, a spokesman for the University of Akron, in Ohio, broke two
and a half weeks of silence from the university on Wednesday. He confirmed
that the administration had been providing officials in Canada and the
United States with documentation of Mr. Falah's employment and academic
"We have been working through diplomatic channels both in the United States
and Canada to provide helpful information that may help secure his return
to the U.S.," said Mr. Herold.
For the first several days of Mr. Falah's detention, the university
declined to comment on his predicament. "We've just been very conscious of
the sensitivity of the Middle East situation," said Mr. Herold.
Mr. Herold said that Mr. Falah's colleagues at the university are very
concerned for his safety.
John Gravois contributed to this article from Washington.
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