Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iranian Israeli gets conviction for travelling to Iran

An Iranian Israeli is convicted in an Israeli court for going back to Iran. But his defence, that he wanted to help his brother sell his assets, cuts little ice with the leader of Iranian immigrants in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The conviction of an Ashdod man who traveled to Iran was justified, said David Motai, spokesman for the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel, on Wednesday.

Jayad Soulemani, 48, from Ashdod, said he traveled to Iran to sell assets in order to help his brother, who lives there. During his stay he was questioned by Iranian intelligence officers, and was asked questions about Israel and the IDF, according to the charge sheet. Soulemani has expressed regret over his actions, attributing them to poor judgment.

The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court sentenced the Iranian-born Soulemani to four months community service and fined him NIS 2,000 for visiting the Islamic Republic two years ago. He was found guilty of traveling to an enemy state without obtaining special permission, after he purchased forged Iranian documents in Turkey. Soulemani was also sentenced to a 10-month suspended prison sentence.

Some 250,000 Iranian-Israelis reside in Israel, while around 25,000 Jews live in Iran.

“The question is very simple,” said Motai said. “If there is a law prohibiting travel to any country, then all citizens must know that violating the law has consequences. It doesn’t matter whether that country is Iran or Morocco, and there are no clauses in the law saying that helping one’s brother can constitute an exception,” Motai told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“Soulemain’s visit could have ended very badly. I know others who have traveled to Iran and were forced to remain there for over two years. Their passports were confiscated and they only got out by paying a bribe,” he continued. “Why are people going to Iran when Iranian leaders are shouting ‘death to Israel’ every day?” Motai asked. “Do we have to visit a country whose leaders constantly speak of our destruction?”

Motai said he, too, had family in the Islamic Republic, adding, “I’m not going there, and I urge all Iranian-Israelis not to go. It’s a bad idea.”

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