Adalah Representing MK Sa'id Naffaa Against Criminal Indictment for Visiting Syria

Nazareth District Court, Criminal Case: 47188-12-11, State of Israel v. Sa'id Naffaa


At a hearing in the Nazareth District Court held on 30 January 2012, the legal defense team representing Arab MK Sa'id Naffaa (National Democratic Assembly-Balad) rejected a request made by the Attorney General (AG) to begin judicial procedures in the case prior to a decision on the question of whether the criminal charges against him fall within the scope of his parliamentary immunity.

The legal defense team, which comprises Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn and private attorney Salim Wakim, objected to the AG's failure to provide them with the full investigatory materials in the case. They also expressed their surprise that the indictments against MK Naffaa and a group of Arab Druze elders had been filed at this specific time, two years after the AG announced his intention to indict them, and five years after the events in question. The court decided that the next hearing on the case will be held on 29 April 2012.

The AG has charged MK Naffaa with traveling illegally to an enemy state (as defined by Israeli law), assisting in organizing a visit to an enemy state, and being in contact with a foreign agent. These charges relate to a delegation of around 300 persons – Arab Druze clerics and social figures who are citizens of Israel – that MK Naffaa organized and accompanied on a pilgrimage to Druze holy places in Syria in September 2007. With respect to the charge of "contact with a foreign agent", the prosecution alleges that MK Naffaa met leaders of political organizations that Israel considers to be "terrorist organizations" while in Syria.

MK Naffaa denies the charge of contact with a foreign agent, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and maintains that all his activities and meetings fall within the framework of his duties as an elected public official. Regarding the charge of organizing a visit to Syria for Arab Druze elders, 16 of whom have been indicted before the Nazareth Magistrates' Court, MK Naffaa has stated that the Israeli law that prohibits visits by clerics and visits for humanitarian purposes to Syria and other "enemy states" is arbitrary. The Emergency Regulations (Foreign Travel) (1948), pursuant to which MK Naffaa is charged, is contrary to democratic standards and international law.

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See: Photos from the court hearing


Case Citation: Criminal Case 47188-12-11, State of Israel v. Sa'id Naffaa