A lawyer for the Palestine Center for Human Rights visited Dirar Abu Sisi in his cell in Shikma Prison outside Ashkelon and received the most detailed account yet of his kidnapping in Ukraine and rendition to Israel. The particulars as he recounts them are almost precisely as I portrayed them here in this blog. What’s remarkable to me was that even though I didn’t know some of them, I was able to surmise and infer what is likely to have happened based on information I already knew or hints that had been offered by other sources.
The Israeli press is now reporting the story widely (no one crediting my work in breaking the story of course). The gag will fall in a matter of time. What we still don’t know though is why Israel wanted Dirar in the first place and why he was so important they went to all that trouble knowing that eventually their rendition crime would be exposed. I suppose they believe that since Cheney and Bush got away with it that they could too. But perhaps we’ll be able to make them pay a small price for their egregious violations of international law.
Here is the press release of PCHR. Though the statement makes a blanket claim that the Mossad was the sole actor in his rendition, it becomes clear in the course of this account that it is likely the Ukrainian military or security agencies colluded as well:
…Abu Sisi told the PCHR lawyer that on 19 February 2011 he was travelling by train from Kharkov to Kiev to meet with his brother Yousef who was coming from the Netherlands. Abu Sisi stated that three persons, two in military uniforms, entered his room on the train. They asked him to show his passport but he refused. Then they threatened him and forcefully took his passport. They forced him to get off the train at the nearby station of Poltava. At this time he was handcuffed and hooded. He was transported in a car to Kiev. Once in Kiev he was held in an apartment where there were another six persons who introduced themselves to be members of the Mossad. Abu Sisi said that the Mossad members immediately questioned him and then flew him by plane. The flight lasted between four and five hours before landing in a place unknown to him. Approximately thirty minutes later, they took off again and the flight lasted for approximately one hour. Upon landing Abu Sisi found himself in Israel. Abu Sisi told the PCHR lawyer that he was denied contact with a lawyer for fourteen days. This denial was extended for another eleven days. He said that he was placed under intensive interrogations and that he was denied his legal rights.
It should be noted that the Israeli security authorities imposed a media blackout regarding the kidnapping of Abu Sisi and prevented lawyers from visiting him to check on his health and provide legal assistance during the second period.
After knowing the details from Abu Sisi, PCHR has doubts about whether there was collusion from international parties in the kidnapping. Especially as Abu Sisi was not legally arrested by Ukrainian authorities and he did not have any appearances in domestic courts. PCHR has concerns over the deterioration of Abu Sisi’s health and notes that he has cholelithiasis and he takes blood thinning medicines. He is experiencing serious psychological problems after going into long and continued investigation sessions. PCHR calls for the immediate release of Abu Sisi.
All of which means the following: in addition to Israel and the Ukraine colluding in this major violation of international law, the territory of a third country was also involved as the rendition flight landed in a country approximately a one hour flight from Israel. Readers may have additional ideas, but the countries I can think of that might be likely to have participated and are in that one hour zone would be Turkey (if the military cooperated without the knownledge of the political echelon), Cyprus or Bulgaria (possibly). I doubt it could be a former Soviet Republic like Georgia, Armenia or Azerbijian as it would’ve had to have overflown enemy nations like Syria or Iraq.
In addition, this means that the Mossad either brought their own plane flown into a Ukrainian airport or leased one in Ukraine. It’s more likely the former than the latter, which would mean an extraordinary level either of direct cooperation with Ukrainian authorities or secrecy hiding the identity of the plane.
Abusisi was denied contact with an attorney for a total of 24 days, a clear violation of his rights.
Though Veronika Abusisi, Dirar’s wife makes no direct claims of torture, this statement published four days ago at the Facebook group, Free Dirar, which I created and invite you to join, does give one grounds for concern:
Mikhal Dansiger [Dirar’s former lawyer] told me in a telephone conversation today that Dirar saw a doctor today and that his health condition is better. Dirar would never go to a doctor on his own to “make …sure” that he is in good condition. Before we lost our sense of equanimity [before the arrest], my husband never complained about anything at all, all his tests were normal. He always paid close attention to his health. But now after the “adventure” and “warm” conversation with “mild-mannered” Israeli secret service [interrogators], my spouse has heart problems, increased arterial heart pressure, stomach and gall bladder problems, kidney stone illness.
My love for my kids’ homeland [Gaza], my spouse, is unconditional.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.