The family of Iyad Jamil Assad al-Johari, who is being indicted on espionage charges, is denying that he spied on IDF operations for Syrian intelligence. The Druze's parents claim that he was "abducted" in order to deter others from undermining Israeli security.
"I find it hard to believe these accusations are true," Iyad's father, Jamil, said. "I'm sure my son is innocent and never considered doing such a thing. We are very surprised and hope that Iyad will be released from custody soon."
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According to the indictment, al-Johari confessed that during his time in Syria as a medical student between 2005 and 2008, he was in contact with three Syrian intelligence officers. Ahead of his vacations in Israel, he was instructed to collect information on IDF operations in the Golan Heights.
In 2008, he told his handlers he had been questioned by Israeli security forces. No further details are available on the matter but it appears that the Shin Bet failed to identify him as a spy at the time.
'Our son would never consider spying.' Jamil and Najah al-Johari (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
Father Jamil said that Iyad had traveled to Damascus 10 years ago to study medicine and was one of the top students in his class. "He graduated and went to work at a hospital in Syria," he said. "A year ago, he married a Syrian girl and has not visited Israel in the past four years. If he suspected there was even the slightest chance he would get arrested in Israel, he never would have returned."
The father disclosed that his son was arrested at the Quneitra crossing a month ago, on the day he was meant to return to Israel. "We have not been able to contact him since," he said.
"My son was not arrested in standard procedure, he was kidnapped and arrested in a most humiliating manner, in order to teach others a lesson at my son's expense. We shall continue the legal procedures until we prove his innocence."
Iyad al-Johari and wife Hanadi (Reproduction photo: Hassan Shaalan)
Iyad's mother, Najah, said: "I miss him and want to hold him but the police and security forces won't let us. I couldn't even talk to him in court today. I talk to his wife every day and she constantly cries, not knowing what to do. We are waiting for them to allow her to visit him in jail."
Iyad al-Johari graduated from high school with honors. He is the eldest of eight children and is married to Hanadi al-Safadi, 27, who is pregnant with their first child. The two live in a village near Damascus.
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