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Family plead for Australian accused of Hamas ties

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hatien


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SYDNEY (AFP) – The family of an Australian man detained in Israel over alleged links to Hamas has called the charges "preposterous" and urged Canberra to intervene.

The Palestinian-born Eyad Abuarga, an information technology expert, was arrested in March as he tried to enter Israel through Ben Gurion airport and charged with "belonging to an illegal organisation", in this case Hamas.

He was also accused of "activities on behalf of an illegal organisation."

Hamas, the main Islamic movement in the Palestinian territories, is considered a terrorist group under Israeli law.

The indictment alleges Abuarga had been in touch with the group since making contact with a Hamas cell during a trip to Syria in 2008.

He allegedly also received training on the use of automatic weapons during the trip, the indictment said.

It added that between 2009 and 2010, a Palestinian living in Saudi Arabia allegedly asked Abuarga "for his help in obtaining encrypted telephones and panoramic photo equipment, as well as technology for guiding missiles."

After expressing his intention to visit Israel, he was then tasked with photographing commercial centres, collecting maps and making contact with commercial businesses in Israel, the indictment alleges.

Abuarga arrived with his family in Australia in 1997 and gained citizenship.

His wife Asma, who was also arrested but then released and is now back in Australia with her five children, told the Sun-Herald newspaper she had been denied access to her husband, and a request for telephone contact was refused.

"The allegations against him that he was spying for Hamas are preposterous," she said.

She claimed his arrest was revenge for Australia's expulsion last year of an Israeli diplomat after it was found that Israel faked Australian passports used in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

"Eyad is the victim of a cheap attempt from the Israeli authorities to take revenge on Australia," she claimed, adding that she was distraught at reports her husband had "confessed".

"My husband cannot admit to something he has not done. I am calling on the Australian government to intervene and to do all it possibly can, to return my husband back to his family and homeland, Australia."

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