Defendant at court
Photo: Ofer Amram
Ashkenazi working out
Photo: Gadi Kablo

Suspected spy: I don't know what Ashkenazi looks like

Young Israeli Arab accused of spying on IDF chief for Hezbollah denies stalking Ashkenazi at gym, says 'it's all nonsense'

Tira resident Rawi Sultani, accused of spying on Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi at a Kfar Saba gym, denied the allegations against him as his trial opened Tuesday morning at the Petah Tikva District Court.


"It's all nonsense, and it will be proved in court. I don't even know what the chief of staff looks like," he said.


Sultani has been charged with handing information to the enemy, contacting a foreign agent and conspiring to commit a crime. During the first court hearing, held in front of a three-judge panel, the severe indictment filed against him was read out. The discussion was then postponed at the defense counsel's request, in order to allow Sultani's lawyers to review the evidence.


During a second hearing on the prosecution's request to keep the defendant in custody until the completion of all legal proceedings, his lawyers once against asked for a delay in order to review the evidence. The judge accepted, and the next discussions were delayed till October.


Defendant and his father at court (Photo: Ofer Amram)


Before the discussion, the defendant told reporters that his innocence would be proven in the court. Asked about the Ashkenazi's working out habits, he replied, "I don't know. I have no idea how fit the chief of staff is. I was not next to the chief of staff at the gym. This case will result in my acquittal."


Attorney Fouad Sultani, the defendant's father, said before the court hearings that his son was innocent, that he had no intention of delivering information to Hezbollah, and that the whole incident was the result of his son's recklessness.


"The judges will hear the case and reach the conclusion that my son did not mean anything, did not do anything and only bragged about meeting the chief of staff at the gym. We will deny the allegations in court."


Asked why his son accepted a CD with a coding software from his operator in Poland in order for them to be in touch and exchange information, the father responded that the defendant had taken the CD because he was unable to say "no." According to Sultani, his son did not use the CD, which was in his possession for eight months.


According to the indictment, initial contact between Sultani and a Hezbollah operative was made when Sultani attended a Balad youth camp in Morocco in August 2008. While there, he befriended Salman Harb, a Lebanese youth who reportedly revealed to him that he was active in Hezbollah. During their meeting, Sultani told the operative that he works out at the same gym as the IDF chief of staff. At this stage, he was not asked to take any action, only to stay in contact with the Hezbollah youth.


Later, the Hezbollah operative wrote to Sultani to invite him to Poland. Sultani left for Poland in December, where he met with the operative's brother, Sami Harb. Sultani was told that Salman could not get an entry visa to Poland. Harb asked Sultani at the beginning of their Poland meeting to provide him with information on IDF bases and soldiers. Towards the end of the meeting, he started asking him questions about Ashkenazi.


He asked about the location of the gym, including its various workout machines and their characteristics, ways of accessing the gym, entrance protocol for members and guests, gym security arrangements, the location of security guards and how they were armed.


פרסום ראשון: 09.15.09, 12:37
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