Thursday, July 27, 2006

Israel holds Canadian accused of being 'Hezbollah' spy-

Israel holds Canadian accused of being Hezbollah spy
Last Updated Wed, 26 Jul 2006 20:32:38 EDT
CBC News

The family of a professor accused of being a Hezbollah spy says the Canadian government has abandoned them as they try to learn more about his fate.

A 2006 photo provided by his family shows Akron University Prof. Ghazi Falah. (Associated Press)

Gahzi Falah, a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio who formerly taught at the University of Toronto, was arrested in northern Israel near the Lebanese border in early July. Falah has both Canadian and Israeli citizenship.

"He was taking pictures of Israeli installations along the northern border," said Nancy Goldfarb, spokeswoman for the Israeli Consulate General in Philadelphia to the Associated Press on Wednesday. "He was arrested on suspicion that his pictures were taken for intelligence purposes. Currently, he is still under investigation and I don't know whether he will be indicted."

An Israeli court extended Falah's detention through Sunday and an appeal is scheduled for Thursday in Haifa, according to his lawyer in Israel, Husein abu-Husein.

Falah's son, Naail, told CBC News that the family's daily calls to Foreign Affairs have been ignored.
"I've seen more effort done by the American government than I have from the Canadian government, and we are not American citizens," he said.

Alan Baker, Israel's ambassador to Canada, said he first heard about the case this week.

"I was approached by some members of Parliament yesterday, and I passed their request on to Jerusalem, and as soon as I get an answer I will be in a position to reply," Baker said on Wednesday.

A renowned Middle East geographer, Falah often takes pictures of landmarks for his work, according to his son.

"If he is detained on the basis of his academics, it's a sad situation for Israel, because academic freedom should be respected all around the world," Naail Falah said.

He said that his father considers himself pro-Palestinian and has written articles critical of Israeli policies in the past, but is not a security threat.

Abu-Husein said he was only able to visit his client for the first time on Wednesday.

With files from Associated Press

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