[Ppnews] Muhammad Salah's trial - Journalist tells of secretly visiting Israeli interrogation center

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 13 17:05:55 EST 2006

Journalist tells of secretly visiting Israeli interrogation center in 
testimony in trial of Palestinian-American


The Associated Press
Published: November 13, 2006

CHICAGO: Former New York Times journalist Judith Miller told a 
federal court jury Monday how she secretly witnessed the 1993 
interrogation by Israeli agents of a Palestinian-American grocer 
charged with providing money and recruits to a terrorist group.

Miller, who was Cairo bureau chief of The New York Times at the time, 
said Muhammad Salah's lawyer told her that he had been tortured by 
Israeli agents at the interrogation center but she saw no evidence of that.

"He was boasting, he was jaunty, there was no reason to believe that 
he had been subjected to that kind of treatment," Miller testified.

Salah, 53, and former university professor Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 48, 
are charged in a federal racketeering indictment with providing money 
and fresh recruits to the Islamic militant group Hamas in its 
campaign to topple the Israeli government.

The two men say they merely were trying to help impoverished 
Palestinians suffering under the Israeli army's occupation of the 
West Bank and Gaza Strip. They deny that they are Hamas members or 
support any form of terrorism.

Salah was arrested in Israel in January 1993 and served four and a 
half years in Israeli prisons before his release and return to Chicago.

He claims that he was deprived of sleep, hooded and forced to sit in 
a tiny chair with his hands cuffed behind his back before he made a 
series of statements to agents of the Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency.

Shin Bet interrogators using aliases and testifying before a 
courtroom cleared of spectators have said that Salah's statements 
were made voluntarily.

Miller drew the national spotlight when she served 85 days in jail 
for civil contempt after refusing to testify before a federal grand 
jury in Washington's CIA leak investigation. She resigned from The 
Times in 2005.

She testified that she flew to Israel in 1993 after reading about 
Salah's arrest and contacted aides to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak 
Rabin, whom she described as a longtime friend.

Through Rabin and Shin Bet chief Yakov Perry, she was invited to 
visit the interrogation center in Ramallah provided that she would 
not reveal in any article she wrote that she had been there and seen 
Salah questioned.

She said that she agreed to that condition after checking with an 
editor. On cross examination, she was asked which editor had approved.

"I don't recall, we had a lot of editors, sir," she said.

She also said that she could not remember whether she was allowed to 
use a tape recorder while watching the interrogation session on 
television from a room adjacent to where Salah was being questioned.

She continued to say she could not remember after being reminded of a 
1998 radio interview in which she said she had used a tape recorder.

Miller said she was taken to the interrogation center because the 
Israelis wanted her to write about Salah. He allegedly had already 
confessed that money to finance Hamas was coming out of the United 
States and Israeli officials wanted to draw U.S. attention to that.

But she said she was initially skeptical and believed that Salah 
might have been tortured into making such statements and was only 
willing to write a story after seeing him for herself under Israeli 

"Was he handcuffed?" federal prosecutor Carrie E. Hamilton asked.

"No," said Miller. She said she was "looking at him for any sign of 
torture." But she said that she saw nothing that raised such concerns.

Defense attorneys repeatedly tried to portray her as biased in favor 
of Israel. "Have you ever been used as a Mossad asset?" asked Salah 
attorney Michael Deutsch, referring to the Israeli intelligence service.

"No," Miller said. She left the courthouse in the company of a 
lawyer, refusing to stop to answer questions from reporters.

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