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Free Razi Nabulsi – Freedom of Expression Detainee!

On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, Israeli police came to search the house of the political activist Razi Nabulsi, a student and a worker aged 23, resident of Haifa. They confiscated a computer, cellphone, books and papers, and took Razi with them for questioning.

The next morning Razi was brought to the Haifa court and the police requested his remand on the grounds of “incitement”. Razi was represented by lawyer Aram Mahamid from the “Adalah” Human Rights center.

The materials that were submitted to the judge were, of course, “secret”. What we could understand from the answers of the police investigators to the questions of the defense lawyer in the court, was that the charges are based on statuses supposedly posted by Razi on Facebook and some leaflets that were distributed in the streets of Haifa. Razi was also accused of possessing books by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani. According to what the representative of the Haifa police said in the court, they received a special permission from “The State’s Attorney” to open an investigation against Razi on July 10. Only now, after three months of undercover investigation, they decided to make the investigation public, hence the search of Razi’s home and the detention of the “target”…

Excuses for detention

The lawyer protested the detention, based solely on open political statements and public activity, and called for Razi to be immediately released. The police themselves admitted that Razi is not suspected of any act of violence and also clarified that they do not suspect that any other person committed any offence following “incitement” by Razi.

However, the police claimed the “presumption of dangerousness” of the suspect. This dubious blanket term is widely used by the security services in Israeli courts to justify wholesale remand of “suspects” on any “security” issue, claiming that the very type of the accusation entitles this “dangerousness”. This allows automatic long detention, regardless of the degree of suspicion, the quality of the evidence or any specific circumstances of the detainee. It is not the first time that the police and courts are expanding this “presumption of dangerousness” from the realm of “security” investigations to the persecution against Palestinian political activists.

Razi’s detention was extended until Monday 14.10.2013.

For those not used to Israel’s legal procedures – it should be made clear that Razi is detained “for interrogation” and was not indicted of any offence. Israeli law allows such detention for interrogation to be extended for several weeks.

Secret Materials

On Friday 11/10 “Adalah” appealed the 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 statuses which Razi posted on his Facebook page in Arabic. The lawyer requested to see the original Arabic texts, because translations by the police are sometimes misguided, biased or might distort the author’s intention. The police refused to allow the lawyer to see the original Arabic texts that they claimed to have “translated” – claiming that they are secret investigative materials!

The court, functioning as a rubber stamp, again confirmed Razi’s extended detention based on secret material it could not read.

The creative art of police translation

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…

Several years ago a group of protesters from the city of Allid (Lod) was accused of possessing sign that says “كل الكرامة والعزة لشهدائنا الأبرار” (All the honor and glory of our innocent martyrs). The police translated it to “כל הכבוד לעזה והמחבלים המתאבדים” (“All the honor to Gaza and the suicide terrorists”). The attorney of the detainees argued strongly against the false and misleading translation, which violates his client rights. The Judge (this time eager to make justice) ordered the police to bring professional translation by an academic expert of Arabic…

The protesters remained in jail for another week, until the authorized translation arrived…

Razi denied of books

To complete the picture of the police’s treatment of Razi, it is worth mentioning that the guards at Jelemeh (Kishon) detention center refused to enter any books for Razi. His family, aware of the police’s “sensitivities”, tried to bring some none political reading books to the jail… As said. The guards refuse to enter any books and by doing so prevented further danger to the Jewish “democratic” State.

(This article was published also in Arabic and Hebrew.)

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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).