Following the indictment against Arab-Israeli author Ameer Makhoul, chairman of Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations), his defense counsel claimed he is innocent and accused the Shin Bet of using particularly violent methods against his client.
According to the lawyer, the violence led Makhoul to 'admit' to acts he did not in fact commit. A senior Shin Bet source said the accusations are groundless.
Makhoul is accused of espionage, assisting an enemy at a time of war and maintaining contact with an enemy agent.
According to his lawyers, attorneys Hassan Jabrin, Hussein Abu-Hussein and Orna Cohen from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, "After he was denied access to a lawyer, which continued for 12 days of questioning, Mr. Makhoul declared in the Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court that particularly harsh interrogation methods were used against him, which harmed him psychologically and physically, and caused him to admit to the suspicions leveled against him even though he did not in fact do what he admitted to."
His lawyers said that during his detention their client was deprived of sleep and was interrogated almost without a break, while his hands and feet were tied in uncomfortable positions to a chair that was not of sufficient size and fixed to the floor. They said that when he complained of serious pain, the interrogators decided to tie him even tighter, and threatened that he would "leave the interrogation disabled," and that he would "stay in the chair till he got hemorrhoids."
The defense counsel also said that the partial gag order on publication of the case, which was lifted Thursday, was why they had not revealed the prohibited interrogation methods used against Makhoul.
"He detailed the torture he had undergone, but during the entire interrogation period we were refused a copy of his medical reports," his lawyers said. "Furthermore, we were not permitted to send him a doctor of our own. Only yesterday (Wednesday) the Shin Bet announced its agreement to allow a doctor sent by his family to see him and report to the family."
"Exaggerating accusations has become a common method in security cases, a method which is supposed to justify the isolation of the detainee while maintaining a complete media blackout and using prohibited interrogation methods," Makhoul's lawyers said. "Dr. Sa'id sent a clear message to figures involved in the investigation in which he clarified that he had never been active on behalf of Hezbollah and emphasized that all his political activities had been open and legal."
A Shin Bet source rejected the claims. The Shin Bet also said that the president of the Magistrate's Court which had deliberated the extension of Makhoul's detention had asked about his wellbeing and even noted this issue in the protocol. Makhoul, they claimed, had replied that he misses his family and requested a towel, and noted one isolated case in which he had felt dizzy. He had not complained of any other exceptional occurrence during his interrogation.
Hanan Greenberg also contributed to this report