Only six out of the original 27 Freedom Waves participants have been released, twenty-one participants are still detained in Israeli prisons. Egyptian journalist with Almasry Alyoum, Lina Attalah was the first to be released, she was handed over to officials at the Egyptian Embassy in Israel who later escorted her back home to Egypt through Taba crossing, Lina wrote an eyewitness account which can be found here. Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship was released the same day as the ships were taken over by Israeli navy. Majd says he has been released with a fine of 3000 NIS (~810 USD) and his passport has been confiscated for a month. Two Greek captains, Giorgos and Zacharias, and two Al-Jazeera journalists Casey and Aimane where also released.
Among those left in prison are Jihan Hafez; journalist with Democracy Now, Hassan Al-Ghani; a Scottish Journalist with Press TV, and many others including a European parliament member. Some of the detained human rights activists were allowed a 3 minutes phone call, some were cut off after one minue. Paul Murphy reported from inside detention about the Israeli navy’s violent manner of boarding the ships in international waters and the bad treatement of the activists in prison. A letter was smuggled from prison by the Canadian David Heap describing situation from inside “Cell 9 of the Apartheid State of Israel.”
A press released was released today to update on the situation of the Palestine Waves Political Prisoners:
Freedom Waves to Gaza
Palestine Office @PALWaves
7 November 2011
UPDATE ON FREEDOM WAVES POLITICAL PRISONERS
21 still detained and refusing to sign false statements
[RAMALLAH] Of the 27 human rights defenders captured during Israel’s illegal takeover of the Freedom Waves to Gaza vessels on Friday, 4 November, 20 remain in Givon prison and the whereabouts of one is unknown.
Israeli officials have been claiming that all 27 people aboard the MV Tahrir and MV Saoirse have been released or are awaiting deportation. This is not true. Freedom Waves can confirm that six people have been released or deported. These are Majd Kayyal (Palestinian from Haifa), Lina Attalah (Journalist from Egypt), Casey James (Journalist from the US), Aimane Zoubir (Journalist from Morocco), Captain George Klontzas (Greece) and Captain Zacharias Stylianakis.
The whereabouts of British journalist, Hassan Ghani of PressTV is unknown. On Saturday prison authorities told lawyers that Hassan was not at the prison, yet we know that he has not yet been released. Freedom Waves organizers demand that the Israeli authorities reveal where Hassan Ghani is being held and that he be allowed access to a lawyer.
The Israeli authorities have tried to pressure the human rights defenders that remain in Israeli prison to sign a voluntary deportation agreement (waiver of right to see a judge) in order to be immediately deported. The activists refuse to sign, not because they want to come before an Israeli judge, but rather because the wavier states that they came to Israel voluntarily and entered the country illegally, which are patently untrue in light of the fact that Israeli naval ships violently seized the Tahrir and Saoirse, and forcibly transported them and all on board to Ashdod. Israeli authorities have ignored requests by the group’s lawyer to deport the activists immediately without having to sign this form that contains falsities meant to absolve Israel of responsibility for illegal abduction of foreign nationals in international waters.
Because they have refused to sign the waiver, according to Israeli law, they will be detained for 72 hours and then brought before an immigration judge, who will rubberstamp the deportation order. After this mock legal process, deportation will commence. For the first 24 hours of their abduction, none of the activists, crew, or journalists, were allowed to call a lawyer or family members. On Sunday, a few were able to make one one-minute phone call.
NOTE: Various accounts from prisoners have come out contradicting Israel’s claim of a peaceful takeover of the boats. Some activists were tasered and beaten, and at least one of the captains abused during interrogation. For accounts that we have been able to obtain, please see: www.tahrir.ca and www.irishshiptogaza.org.
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