Today, 10 May
2010, the Petakh Tikva Magistrates’Court lifted a gag order placed on
the detentions of two Arab political activists, Dr.
Omar Saeed and Ameer Makhoul, and revealed the charges made against
them by the GSS (the General Security Services or Shin Bet) of meeting
foreign agent and spying.
Dr. Omar Saeed lives in the village of Kufr Kanna
and has a long history of
political activism. He has a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology and runs a
company in natural medicine.
Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian Arab citizen of
Israel, is a political
activist and human rights defender. He is the General Director of Ittijah, a
network of Arab NGOs in Israel,
which is in special consultative status with the UN Economic
Social Council (ECOSOC). He is
also an active member of several coalitions
and networks of
international and regional organizations. In addition, he serves as the
of the Public Committee for the Protection of Political Freedoms in the
framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of
this position, he engages primarily in monitoring restrictions on the
freedoms of Arab citizens of the state, including its leaders,
restrictions and voicing sharp and open criticism thereof in and abroad.
Details of the arrests and searches
forces arrested Dr. Omar Saeed on 24 April 2010
while he was leaving the country. The Magistrates’ Court in Petakh
since extended his detention several times while preventing him from
lawyer. Sixteen days
after his arrest, during which time he was subjected to continuous
interrogation and allowed a very limited amount of sleep, the security
permitted Dr. Saeed to meet his lawyers, Attorney Orna Kohn (of
Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, and Attorney Hassan Jabereen (of Adalah).
Saeed stated that he denies all of the charges made against him and
clear testimony to his interrogators that he has never worked for any
particular organization, and that all of his activity is open and
purely political goals.
On 6 May 2010, at
3:10 am in the middle of night, sixteen GSS agents and Israeli police
the Makhoul family home in Haifa and arrested Mr. Ameer
conducted an extensive search of the home, confiscating documents,
family’s four mobile phones (belonging to Mr. Makhoul, his wife and his
daughters), laptops, the hard drives from his daughters’ desktop
camera and a tape recorder. The arrest and search orders cited
reasons. On the same night, the police and security forces raided the
Ittijah and confiscated documents and computers. The security services,
the approval of the Petakh
Tikva Magistrates’ Court,
have prevented Mr. Makhoul from meeting a lawyer
since his arrest.
The arrest follows
the imposition of a travel ban on Mr. Makhoul by the Ministry of the
on 21 April 2010 that prohibits him from leaving the country for a
period of two months.
The decision to ban Mr. Makhoul from traveling abroad based on
regulations – Regulation 6 of the Emergency Regulations (Foreign
1948 – and without conducting any prior suitable, transparent and fair
is illegal and violates his rights to freedom of movement and due
25 April 2010 Adalah demanded that the Minister of Foreign Affairs
gag order on the case.
Attorney Orna Kohn represented Dr. Omar Saeed and Mr.
Ameer Makhoul in relation to the ban on their meeting a lawyer, in full
cooperation with Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who defended the two men
regard to the extension of their detention. Attorneys Kohn and Abu
submitted numerous appeals, which were all rejected by the District
Court in Petakh Tikva.
Adalah demands the
lifting of the gag orders on behalf of Arab journalists and I’lam Media
22 April 2010, the Petakh Tikva
Magistrates’ Court approved the request
of the police and GSS to place an unjust and sweeping gag order
publication of any information about the interrogation and detention in
Israeli media. On 6 May 2010, Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker filed a
motion to the
court to lift the gag order on behalf of the I’lam Media Center and
Al-Ittihad, Kul al-Arab,
Al-Medina, Hadith al-Nas,
al-Maqal, Sawt al-Haq w’al-Hurriya, Al-‘Inwan
al-Raisi and Ma’a
al-Hadath, as well as news websites Arabs48,
Bokra net, Radio
Shams, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Public Committee
Torture in Israel. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
joined the demand, as well as Israeli media outlets.
persecution and the law
is Adalah’s view that the conduct of the Israeli security
services is arbitrary and political, and violates the basic principles
procedures and standards of human rights. Furthermore, inflating the charges made against Mr. Ameer Makhoul
and Dr. Saeed is aimed at legitimizing the unjust gag order that was
22 April 2010 and the blackout placed by the GSS on each of their cases
the outset, and at silencing the voice of public protest. Both
being held in harsh conditions of confinement. They have been prevented
meeting their lawyers and completely isolated from the outside world.
Adalah regards the
charge of meeting a foreign agent as a loose charge that allows the GSS
criminalize almost any Arab who establishes legitimate relations with
and social activists in the Arab world.
arrests of Mr. Makhoul and Dr. Saeed come at a time of heightened
against Arab citizens of Israel, which has resulted in the recent
two Arab Members of Knesset – MKs Mohammed Barakeh and Said Naffa’,
the previous indictment of Sheikh Raed Salah, the Head of the Islamic
in Israel – for political activities, and of attacks against human
organizations in Israel working to defend Palestinian rights.