The defense team for an Israeli Arab detained on charges of espionage has threatened to boycott an upcoming court hearing unless they are allowed to meet their client.
Amir Makhoul, director general of the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations (Ittijah), was detained by Israeli intelligence service on May 6 for allegedly spying and contacting a foreign agent from Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
The arrest came shortly after Omar Said, a member of the Balad movement, was also taken to Israeli custody on April 24 on similar charges.
Makhoul, reportedly categorized as a "security detainee," has not been permitted to meet with a lawyer or to speak with his family since his arrest He has also been prohibited from attending his own hearings at court, according to Adalah human rights organization.
"If the prohibition order on meeting with a lawyer will continue to be valid [Monday] morning, the legal team will submit a motion to the court in Petah Tikva asking it to inform Amir Makhoul of their decision not to participate in the detention hearing," Adalah said in a press release on Sunday.
The rights groups expressed concern that the categorization of Makhul as a security detainee must have "exposed him to harsh conditions of confinement and continuous investigation."
"The legal defense team is convinced that under these circumstances… the representation of Amir Makhoul in the detention hearings has become meaningless," said Adalah, stressing that the Supreme Court of Israel has never accepted an appeal against a ban on meeting with a lawyer.
"In this instance, the legal system is a simply rubber stamp for the [Shin Bet]," it said.
Reports of the Israeli Arab’s detention, initially banned and censored by the Israeli government, sparked an outrage among Arab charity groups and NGOs who urged an immediate release of the renowned activist.
Mokhoul is seen as a regular participant in conferences on discrimination in Israel and abroad and has been a vocal critic of government’s discriminatory polices against Israeli Arabs.