We have been asked by Yoav Haifawi of Free Haifato circulate the following information about the detention of Razi Nabulsi, a political activist who has been remanded to custody for his political beliefs. We call upon all progressive political forces to organize a united front which will put forth the demand “Free Razi Nabulsi!” If such a united front demonstration takes place, we as the ISL will attend it, making our own additional demand as well for “A Free, Red Palestine!”
On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, Israeli police came to search the home of political activist Razi Nabulsi, a student and worker aged 23, who resides in Haifa. During the search, the police confiscated a computer, mobile phone, books, and papers, and took Razi into custody for questioning.
The next morning Razi was brought to a Haifa court where the police requested his remand on grounds of “incitement.” Razi was represented by lawyer Aram Mahamid from the “Adalah” Human Rights Center.
The materials purported to constitute evidence of Razi’s alleged “incitement” submitted to the judge were, of course, “secret,” meaning that neither Razi nor his legal counsel can be informed of the specific charges and who is making them. However, from the police investigators’ responses to the questions asked by Razi’s defense attorney in the court, we understand that the charges against the defendant are based on statements allegedly posted by him on Facebook, as well as the contents of some flyers which were distributed in the streets of Haifa. The police also indicated that Razi’s “incitement” is based in part on his possession of a number of books by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani. According to the representative of the Haifa police who attended the court session, on July 10 2013,the police received special permission from the office of “The State’s Attorney” to begin an investigation against Razi. However, only now, after three months of undercover investigation, did the police decide to make the investigation public, hence the open search of Razi’s home and the detention of the “target.”
Excuses for Detention
Razi’s defense lawyer protested his client’s detention, which is based solely on open political statements and public activity. Attorney Mahamid called for Razi’s immediate release. The police who attended the court session admitted that Razi is not suspected of any acts of violence. They furthermore confirmed that there is no suspicion that any other person committed any offense following “incitement” by Razi.
However, the police maintained that, with regard to Razi, there is a “presumption of dangerousness.” This legally dubious blanket term is widely used by the security services in Israeli courts to justify wholesale remand of “suspects” on any “security” related issue, claiming that the very fact of the accusation establishes the “dangerousness” of the accused. Such judicial acrobatics are used by the state to authorize automatic, lengthy detentions, regardless of the degree of suspicion, the quality of the evidence, or any specific circumstances related to the detainee. This is not the first time that the police and courts in Israel are expanding the use of “presumption of dangerousness” from the realm of “security” investigations to persecution of Palestinian political activists.
The court session on October 10 authorized the extension of Razi’s detention until Monday,October 14, 2013.
For those not familiar with Israeli legal procedure, we emphasize that Razi has not been indicted for any offense, but rather is being detained “for interrogation.” Israeli law permits detention for interrogation of this type to be extended for several weeks.
On Friday, October 11, the NGO “Adalah” appealed Raz’s remand. The appeal was heard before the District Court in Haifa on the same day.
During the hearing, the police presented some Hebrew texts it claims were translation of statements which Razi posted on his Facebook page in Arabic. Razi’s defense attorney demanded to see the original Arabic texts because, as he contended, translations by the police have been known to be misleading, biased, or brazen distortions the author’s intention. The police refused to allow Razi’s lawyer to see the original Arabic version of the texts that they purported to have been “translated,” claiming that these allegedly “inciting” remarks are secret investigative materials!
The judge, functioning as a rubber stamp for the regime, reconfirmed Razi’s extended detention based on the same secret materials that the court itself is not allowed to read because of their sensitivity.
The Creative Art of Police Translation
In Israel, the art of police translation specializes in distorting texts submitted to the court in order to convince the judge (who usually doesn’t understand Arabic) that the detainee is a very dangerous man or woman.
Several years ago a group of protesters from the city of Al-Lyd (Lod) was accused of possessing sign that says “!كل الكرامة والعزة لشهدائنا الأبرار” (“All honor and glory to our innocent martyrs!”). The police translated it to “!כל הכבוד לעזה והמחבלים המתאבדים” (“All honor to Gaza and the suicide terrorists!”). The defense attorney for the detainees persuasively argued that the translation was incorrect and misleading, and thus a violation of his clients’ rights. The presiding judge, who in this instance was keen to see “justice” done, ordered the police to submit a professional translation by an academic expert of Arabic. Yet, until the authorized translation arrived the protesters remained in jail for another week.
Razi is Denied Books
To complete the picture of Razi’s treatment by the police, it noteworthy that the guards at Jelemeh (Kishon) detention center where he is incarcerated have refused to allow any books to be supplied to Razi during his detention. Razi’s family, fully aware of the police “sensitivities,” attempted to bring him some non-political books to read in jail. Once again, the guards refuse to allow any books whatsoever to enter Razi’s cell, presumably to prevent any further danger to the Jewish “democratic” state.
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On Wednesday October 16, after seven full days in detention, Razi was “released” to spend another five days under house arrest. More about the circumstances of his release and some “secrets” from his interrogation you may read in the following post (in Free Haifa Extra).