Today, the Israeli authorities held a hearing on the case of Dirar Abusisi, kidnapped by the Mossad from Ukraine last month, brought to Israel by rendition, and imprisoned there for unspecified reasons while being interrogated intensively by the Shabak. Though Israeli media sources reported that the security services and prosecutor would announce charges against him “in the coming days,” they did not do so today. Instead, after interrogating him for 34 consecutive days, they came to the court hearing with nothing. Here is what his attorney, Smadar Ben Natan reports:
The state came today with a request to extend the detention in additional 8 days, this was supported by an approval of the senior state attorney, Shay Nitzan, and with the explanation that the prosecution went through the evidence material and asked for 8 additional actions in order to complete the investigation.
We argued that if the state does not have enough evidence after 34 days of interrogation, where they should have had evidence to justify the outrageous arrest even before [it occurred], Derar should be released and returned to Ukraine. They were trying to justify the arrest by making him confess [to their] accusations.
The court allowed the detention until next Thursday.
Derar looked very tired and complained that he can’t stand it anymore and that they are just repeating the same questions over and over again, and trying to break him.
Dirar has lost weight during his ordeal. The food he is provided is unpalatable. The questioning is abusive at the very least.
I would ask any supporter of Israel, including those who disagree with my views: what good can possibly come of an outrageous breach of human rights like this? Is this the way you choose to allow your security services to operate?
So let’s say Dirar is the worst you can conceive. If you want to kidnap him and render him to Israel wouldn’t you have a case against him before doing so? In what kind of legal system do you arrest someone before having such a case built, and then attempt to figure out what to charge him with based on what he tells you during interrogation?
And let’s say he tells you something new you didn’t know during interrogation. Surely, you can file a basic charge and then amplify it with what you learn later. The fact that they have refused to file any charge at all is outrageous. The fact that they come and demand an extension is equally outrageous.
I’m just attempting to understand (though it is difficult, admittedly) the thinking of the secret police and those who aid and abet them in the Israeli legal system. Surely, this can’t be a model that any democratic country can hold up for praise.
I’ll tell you what all of this makes me believe: there is no case against Dirar. At least nothing sufficient to the charges they’d prefer to bring. Possibly Dirar is holding up better than they expected under the brutal forms of interrogation Shabak uses in such cases. They may’ve expected him to give them enough to bring such charges. At any rate, since you won’t charge him, free him. That has to be our demand.
Even if Israel frees him and returns him to Ukraine, it can still request extradition from that country and then prosecute legally using legitimate evidence in a trial that features due process, unlike the charade currently on parade. I’m sure Ukraine would be only too happy to oblige given their acquiescence in every Israeli depredation involving this case.
I urge the Israeli human rights community to protest outside Petah Tikvah court next Thursday to hold the security forces feet to the fire. Demand accountability. Deny impunity. Smadar also told me that there was a huge press gaggle outside the courtroom and she was interviewed by CNN, which promised a story. The Israeli press was out in full force and has finally decided it can cover a story it should’ve been aggressively pursuing a month ago. All of this is good for Dirar. As I’ve written here before, the security apparatus loves the dark and shuns the light. Light sends them cowering back into the shadows. Or at least forces a tactical retreat.
Veronika Abusisi, Dirar’s wife, who is in Ukraine, is pursuing legal remedies within that country, demanding that the government disclose what role it played in the kidnapping. She plans to file a court case. After the case goes through the rather discredited Ukrainian legal system, Yousef, Dirar’s brother, who is a Dutch citizen, would have recourse to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where he plans to bring a complaint against Ukraine.
The Ukranian authorities might want to consider what impact this might have on their attempts to showcase their country as a model of European openness and accountability. I’ve mentioned the European Cup championship to be hosted by that country in 2012 and the multi-million dollar ad campaign attempting to bring hundreds of thousands of soccer tourists to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. Trampling on the rights of foreign nationals who have come to Ukraine to apply for citizenship can’t help that process.
To rectify their misdeeds, I’d urge the Ukrainian Interior Ministry to approve Dirar’s application for citizenship and demand his return to Ukraine. Then, as far as I’m concerned bygones can be bygones.
So far, the Ukrainian authorities haven’t acquitted themselves very well. The Interior Ministry and security services rather lamely denied any knowledge or complicity in the kidnapping saying it was against Ukrainian law for any agent of the state to cooperate in such an action. As if, that would prevent anyone from doing such given the right incentive, whether monetary or political. A Ukrainian anti-immigrant crusader, Eduard Bagirov, who appears to be either an overt or covert mouthpiece of the authorities even posted the claim that Abusisi was really a Mossad double agent inside Gaza. In order to protect him from exposure, the Mossad arranged for him to travel to Ukraine, took him, and brought him back to Israel. A rather extraordinary level of imaginative powers is required to wrap one’s mind around that one. But this tell you the level of desperation these people face in covering up their dirty deeds.
Please join the Facebook support group for Dirar.
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.