Israel places journalist in incommunicado detention

15 Apr

210256196_10201994340680960_3182793756719088822_nMajd Kayyal arrested and held incommunicado after his return from Lebanon.

Israel has arrested and placed in incommunicado detention the journalist and researcher Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

The Electronic Intifada has obtained the closed court transcript and gag order – which Israeli media are strictly forbidden from publishing – extending the detention and interrogation of 23-year-old Kayyal under the auspices of the Shin Bet (also known as Shabak), Israel’s secret police.

The original document and a full translation are available below.

According to the court document, Kayyal is being investigated for suspicion of “unlawful travel to Arab countries” and “contact with a foreign agent.”

These are, according to the attorney representing Shin Bet, “serious offenses against the security of the state.”

These kinds of accusations are habitually used by Israel’s secret police to target and silence Palestinian citizens of Israel who are active in exposing and challenging Israel’s racist and undemocratic laws and practices.

As well as being a journalist, Kayyal is a web editor at Adalah, a legal advocacy organization for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Kayyal also participated in November 2011 flotilla attempting to break Israel’s maritime siege of Gaza. The flotilla, in which dozens of journalists and activists took part, was intercepted by Israeli forces.

Adalah has previously told the United Nations that the restrictions Israel imposes on Palestinian citizens’ travel to and meeting people from other Arab countries – so-called “enemy states” – are part of a policy that “seeks to impose severe limitations on social, cultural and religious ties between … Palestinian citizens of Israel” and the “wider Arab and Muslim nations.”

Arrested

Adalah announced on its Facebook page that Kayyal was arrested on Saturday evening at the Sheikh Hussein crossing on the Israeli-Jordanian border.

However an attorney representing the Shin Bet said at a closed court hearing today that Kayyal had been arrested at his home in Haifa.

The news website Arabs 48 published on Facebook the mobile phone photo at the top of this post showing Kayyal as he was being arrested.

Majd Kayyal, second from right, takes part in a seminar in Beirut organized by As-Safir newspaper. (Muhammad Sharara/As-Safir/Facebook)

Kayyal “was returning from a conference he independently attended to mark the 40th anniversary of the As-Safir newspaper in Beirut, Lebanon,” Adalah said.

Kayyal has frequently written for As-Safir and wrote about his trip to Beirut – his first ever.

Kayyal considered his visit to Beirut a dream come true and posted images of himself in the Lebanese capital on his Facebook page.

Adalah noted that its lawyers “attempted to visit Kayyal at the detention camp, but the police issued an order preventing him from meeting with a lawyer.”

Closed hearing

On Sunday morning in a closed hearing, Israeli police asked a judge to extend Kayyal’s detention for 15 days, the maximum allowed under the law.

The judge Zayed Falah, a former military prosecutor, extended Kayyal’s detention until 22 April and imposed a total ban on media reporting about Kayyal’s arrest or detention. The judge also decreed that all court proceedings would be closed.

Falah also upheld the ban on Kayyal meeting with lawyers during his detention. Such bans can be extended for 48 hours at a time.

During the hearing, an attorney for Kayyal – who had not been allowed to meet Kayyal – questioned the police attorney regarding Kayyal’s detention.

The police attorney refused to provide details of the supposed evidence against Kayyal, stating that details were in a secret report provided to the judge. The police attorney said Shin Bet had yet to carry out most of its investigations.

Kayyal’s lawyer said that “prohibiting a meeting with an attorney is a gross violation of the suspect’s basic rights.”

Kayyal himself was then brought into the courtroom at which point his family and attorney had to leave the room. According to the court transcript, Kayyal stated:

I ask to be told the names of the attorneys and the court gave me their names. The court has explained to me about the prohibition from meeting attorneys until 14 April 2014, at midnight, and told me that the hearing was held in the presence of my attorneys, who asked the representative of the police questions. The court has explained to me that my father, mother and brother were present in the courtroom. I have nothing further to add.

The full court transcript, which the Israeli public are forbidden from seeing, translated by Dena Shunra, is published below.

Note: The Electronic Intifada has redacted the home address of Kayyal from the court transcript and from the translation

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