(Haifa, Israel) Today, Thursday, 27 May 2010, the Israeli State Prosecutor will submit indictments against Dr. Omar Saeed, a political activist who also runs a leading company in natural medicine, and Mr. Ameer Makhoul, the Director of the Arab NGO network, “Ittijah” and a human rights defender.
The indictment against Dr. Omar Saeed is being filed before the Nazareth District Court and includes the alleged offenses of contact with a foreign agent and the delivery of information to an enemy. The indictment against Mr. Ameer Makhoul will be submitted before the Haifa District Court. Makhoul is being accused of the charges of assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage, and contact with a foreign agent. Dr. Saeed and Mr. Makhoul have both informed their attorneys that they vehemently deny these charges.
The arrests and interrogations of Dr. Saeed and Mr. Makhoul were conducted in gross violation of their fundamental rights to due process. Moreover, total gag orders were immediately imposed on the cases, which prevented disclosure of the illegal acts committed against them by the General Security Services (GSS or Shabak).
Dr. Saeed was arrested on 24 April 2010. He provided a clear statement to his interrogators that he had never acted on behalf of the Hezbollah, and that his political activities were legal and transparent. Dr. Saeed was allowed to meet his attorneys for the first time only on 10 May 2010, sixteen days after his arrest and detention, due to a court order depriving him of any access to legal counsel. He was interrogated for prolonged stretches of time and allowed a very limited amount of sleep.
Mr. Makhoul was arrested at his home in Haifa on 6 May 2010 at 3:10 am. He was immediately held in isolation and prevented from meeting his lawyers for twelve days following his arrest. During this period he was subjected to harsh interrogation methods by the GSS. Mr. Makhoul stated before the Magistrates' Court in Petakh Tikvah that severe interrogation methods had been used against him, which had caused him both psychological and physical harm, and as a result of which he had admitted under duress to false allegations made by the GSS interrogators regarding acts he did not commit.
The illegal methods employed against Ameer Makhoul during the initial days of his interrogation include protracted sleep deprivation and continuous interrogation, while being shackled tightly to an under-sized chair that was bolted to the floor to prevent it from moving. His hands were cuffed to the back of the chair in a way that stretched his arms and shoulders sharply backward. His legs were folded backwards flanking the chair, with his knees turned toward the floor. When, after hours of being bound in this stress position while under intense interrogation, Makhoul complained of being in excruciating pain, the GSS interrogators proceeded to cuff his legs to the chair. They also threatened that he would be permanently crippled from the interrogation.
Mr. Makhoul's legal defense team, consisting of Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Hassan Jabareen, has not been able to discuss the illegal interrogation methods to date due to the court-imposed gag order on the case. Until 26 May 2010, repeated requests submitted by Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel for access to Mr. Makhoul's medical reports and for an independent doctor to be permitted to examine him were all denied. Following the submission of a petition to the District Court, Mr. Makhoul's medical records will be released, and an independent doctor will visit Mr. Makhoul shortly once he is transferred from the GSS detention center.
Adalah is gravely concerned over the severe infringements of the rights of Dr. Saeed and Mr. Makhoul, which stand in violation of Israeli and international law. On the issue of safeguards against the torture and ill-treatment for detainees, the UN Committee Against Torture, in its Concluding Observations on Israel of 2009 (para. 15), emphasized that, “detainees should have prompt access to a lawyer, an independent doctor and family member, these are important means for the protection of suspects, offering added safeguards against torture and ill-treatment for detainees, and should be guaranteed to persons accused of security offenses.”
For more information on the cases, see: