Abusisi’s First Public Words at Hearing: ‘I am a Simple, Innocent Man’ – OpEd


Dirar Abusisi has made his first public statement since his kidnapping in Ukraine and extraordinary rendition to Israel.   Before beginning a hearing that is underway as I write this, he made his first comments to the media during the court proceedings, saying:

The interrogated me about Gilad Shalit but I have no connection or information about him.  It’s all lies.  I am merely a simple man and electrical engineer.  I send my love to my family.  I am innocent.

He also said that he had been kidnapped from Ukraine and encouraged his family to be strong and patient.

Defense minister Ehud Barak has now gotten into the act and reinforced Netanyahu’s claim that Abusisi knows about Shalit.  This appears to be the line that the Israeli security services have fixed on as most likely to bring a prison sentence against him after two trial balloons linking him to building missles under Iranian training and the Victoria arms shipment were apparently dropped.

Yossi Melman is also reporting based on security sources that Abusisi will be charged with membership in a terror organization and aiding Hamas in manufacturing weapons.  The latter is a charge whispered by another TV news military correspondent weeks ago.  So here you can see how the gag works.  The defense and anyone sympathetic to the defendant may not report on matters that might work in his favor.  However, the prosecution and Shabak may leak at will to their chosen favorite reporters, who dutifully put it in the media pipeline.  Once again revealing a system stacked against all security detainees and in favor of the State.

The “leniency” with which the authorities have treated him derives no doubt from Bibi Netanyahu opening his big mouth during the Channel 2/YouTube interview and crowing about Abusisi’s membership in Hamas.  By the way, can you imagine the leader of a democratic nation proclaiming before not just a national, but international audience that a prisoner who hasn’t even yet been charged with a crime is guilty of being a member of a banned organization?  This surely is a conviction even before the trial has begun.  Would any of my pro-Israel readers want to reconcile that with the concept of innocent till proven guilty?  Or does that hold true only for Israeli Jews?  Palestinians apparently are guilty, not until proven innocent because in the Israeli system that doesn’t happen.  Just guilty.

So the court and/or prosecutor figured that because Bibi had already convicted him before the international media that they should at least allow him to be photographed and make a short statement.

Abusisi’s remand has been extended for another five days, which will bring him to 45 days imprisonment without being charged with a crime, an unprecedented length of time for Israeli prisoners.  At that time, charges are supposed to be filed (but at the last hearing that’s what the court insisted would happen).

I repeat what I said after the Attorney General stated that he was unsatisfied with the evidence Shabak had compiled against Abusisi–whatever they’ve gotten so far hasn’t been enough.  They need to continue working on him till they can build a case for something.  This delay also lends credibility to Smadar Ben Natan’s statement yesterday that her client has done nothing wrong, but rather deserves an airline ticket back to Ukraine with an apology (fat chance).  If Abusisi is guilty of something why has it taken 45 days to file charges?  How long do you need to have 24 hour/7 days a week access to a prisoner in order to find him guilty of terrorism?  A month, a year?

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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