Thursday, June 3, 2010 ISTANBUL –
Funeral prayers are held in Istanbul for eight of the nine people killed on a Gaza aid flotilla as families around the country mourn their dead. At least three activists are still missing, the group that organized the flotilla says, vowing to send larger convoys to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
At least three members of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was attacked by Israeli commandos are still missing, the group that organized the convoy said Thursday as funeral prayers were given for eight slain activists.
“We have a longer list. There are still people who are missing,” Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, one of the main organizers of the flotilla, told reporters at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.
“Our doctors handed over to Israel 38 people who were injured, but they told us there were only 21 injured when we were returning.”
The İHH leader also said the group would send larger convoys to end the embargo on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Yıldırım and hundreds of other activists returned early Thursday to a hero’s welcome in Istanbul. About 1,000 people, some chanting anti-Israeli slogans, packed the city’s airport in the middle of the night to greet the planes carrying them back from Israel.
Seven planes were used to deport 527 activists to Turkey and Greece, said Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, adding that seven other activists remained in Israeli hospitals for treatment of wounds suffered during the Israeli raid. Another plane brought 31 Greeks, three French nationals and one American to Athens.
The first plane contained the bodies of eight Turks and a U.S. national of Turkish origin. All were shot dead in the Israeli raid, according to forensic experts. The nationalities of the victims were determined after post-mortem examinations at a forensic institute in Istanbul, the Anatolia news agency reported. Forensic experts found bullet marks on all the bodies and determined that one was shot at close range.
The exact circumstances of the activists’ deaths are expected to become clear in a ballistics examination that will take about a month to complete.
The 19 wounded activists deported from Israel also suffered from gunshot wounds, according to the chief doctor of the Ankara hospital treating them. “The patients generally have serious injuries to their chests, abdomens and limbs. What we have is mostly gun wounds,” Metin Doğan said in televised remarks.
Israel charges that the passengers on the boat attacked its soldiers, but organizers of the flotilla say Israeli forces started firing as soon as they landed on the ship.
Funeral prayers for eight of the nine people killed onboard the Mavi Marmara were held at the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on Thursday. The coffins of Cengiz Akyüz, Ali Haydar Bengi, İbrahim Bilgen, Furkan Doğan, Cengiz Songür, Çetin Topçuoğlu, Fahri Yaldız and Necdet Yıldırım were wrapped in Turkish flags. The crowd at the funeral chanted anti-Israel slogans before and after the prayers. The funeral prayer for journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar, an İHH member, will be held at the same mosque Friday.
Families of the victims also mourned in various provinces of the country. Photographs of Bilgen, who was a mayoral candidate from the Saadet, or Felicity, Party in the March 2009 local elections, were hung over busy streets in the eastern province of Siirt.
In Adana, Cumali Topçuoğlu, the brother of 54-year-old victim Çetin Topçuoğlu, said family members were happy because their brother had become a “martyr.”
In Diyarbakır, a condolence tent was erected in front of the Ulu Mosque for Bengi, the father of four children.
An official from the İHH identified 19-year-old Doğan, originally from the central Turkish town of Kayseri, as the U.S. national among the victims. Doğan, who held an American passport, had four bullet wounds to the head and one to the chest, according to the İHH’s Ömer Yağmur. The bodies were handed over to the victim’s relatives after the autopsies.
The United Nations and the European Union have harshly criticized Israel after its commandos stormed the six-ship flotilla in international waters, setting off the clashes. About 700 activists – including 400 Turks – were trying to break the Israeli and Egyptian naval blockade by bringing in 10,000 tons of aid.
Two Swedes aboard the aid flotilla intercepted by Israeli forces this week said they had witnessed “premeditated murder.”
“We were witnesses to premeditated murders,”
historian Mattias Gardell told Swedish public radio Thursday upon arrival in Istanbul.
“This was a military attack on a humanitarian aid operation far out in international waters,” said Gardell, a Swedish activist who was on the Mavi Marmara along with his wife, fellow historian Edda Manga, during the attack. “It was a very surprising and aggressive overreaction by Israel.”
Kuwait citizen Ali Buhamd said he saw a wounded Turkish citizen getting shot in the head. “The soldiers also left another Turk to bleed to death despite [his] calls for help,” he added.
Shane Dillon from Ireland, from the crew of the ship Challenger 1, said he witnessed some volunteers being beaten up and a Belgian woman’s nose being broken.
Of five Australians on the Gaza flotilla, two – journalists Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty, who was injured by a stun gun during the Israeli raid – have returned to Turkey, daily The Australian reported on its website Thursday. Three others – Ahmed Luqman, who was shot in the leg, his wife, Jerry Campbell, and his sister Maryam Luqman – are reportedly still in Israel
‘Freedom Fleet’ members cross border at Naqoura
By Wassim Mroueh and Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Thursday, June 03, 2010
BEIRUT: Four Lebanese passengers of an aid fleet bound for Gaza were released by Israeli authorities on Wednesday.
Lebanese activists Hussein Shukor, Hani Sleiman and Al-Jazeera journalists Abbas Nasser and Andre Abou Khalil entered the Lebanese territories via the Naqoura border crossing.
On Sunday night, Israel’s navy stopped six ships dubbed “The Freedom Fleet” ferrying 700 people and 10,000 tons of supplies toward Gaza strip. A Turkish vessel was attacked by Israeli commandos, killing at least nine activists. The captured vessels were escorted into Israel’s port of Ashdod.
The passengers who came from different states are being deported by Israeli authorities. Six Lebanese passengers were aboard the “Freedom Fleet.”
Issam Zaatar, a carrier of a Lebanese-Belgian dual nationality, had left Israel for Brussels Tuesday morning.
Reports said Nabil Hallak, a Lebanese who holds an Irish passport will be deported by the Israeli authorities to Ireland.
Nasser, meanwhile, has been working for Al-Jazeera television since 2004.
The 34-year-old journalist has served in Al-Manar and Al-Alam TV stations along with Bahrain radio station.
As for 61-year-old Hani Sleiman, the lawyer was injured during the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship. He was also among the passengers of the “Lebanese Brotherhood” vessel that tried to break the Israeli siege on Gaza in February 2009.
The ship was held by the Israeli authorities and its passengers deported to their countries. Sleiman occupied senior posts in the Baath Party between 1966 and 1974 and has joined a number of associations. Sleiman is married and has three children.
Hussein Shukor lost his wife and four children when his home was hit by Israeli jets in 2006 summer Israeli war against Lebanon.
He also planned to join the “Lebanese Brotherhood” vessel but failed to do so.
Israel’s step drew waves of criticism from many states and international organizations.
Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan urged the immediate lifting of “the inhumane embargo on Gaza” on Tuesday.
“Israel’s behavior should definitely, definitely be punished,” Erdogan told a meeting of his parliamentary deputies, adding: “The time has come for the international community to say enough.”
Meanwhile, rallies protesting the Israeli storming of the “Freedom Fleet” continued in Beirut on Wednesday.
A sit-in was held by various Lebanese political parties along with Palestinian factions near the ESCWA headquarters in downtown Beirut.
The gathering was called by head of Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt.
The sit-in was attended by members of March 8 and March 14 camps, two rival political groups.
Participants in the sit-in decided to forward petitions conveying their united stance against the aggression to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Arab League Chief Amr Moussa and ambassadors of member states in the Security Council.
PSP official Sharif Fayyad outlined to the crowds the content of a petition that was handed to UN Media Center Director Bahaa Al-Qousi. The letter slammed “Israeli aggressiveness” calling it a “natural product of the racist Zionist culture.”
The demonstrators urged the Security Council to deter the ongoing Israeli aggression against civilians that “didn’t spare volunteers from different races trying to deliver aid to Palestinians besieged by Israel.”
They also called upon the Security Council to lift of the blockade on Gaza, impose sanctions on Israel and force it to pay compensations for the “humane and social” disasters it provoked.
Also, around 5,000 individuals gathered Wednesday afternoon near Fatima gate in the border village of Kfar- Kila protesting Israel’s aggression on Gaza’s aid fleet.
The Hizbullah-arranged gathering was attended by the party’s MP Ali Fayyad and Baaath Party MP Qassem Hashem along with a number of local figures.
Reports said the demonstrators remained near the Israeli-Lebanese borders until the Lebanese passengers were released.
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
ISRAELI intelligence agents photographed members of the Rachel Corrie aid mission before the ship left dock in Dundalk, the first mate of the vessel has claimed
In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Derek Graham maintained that during their time in Israeli custody they saw photographs of several members of the group clearly taken in Ireland.
“They had people in Dundalk taking pictures. I would say it is standard. They would be either Mossad or IDF intelligence,” he said.
“There was a picture of Jenny [his wife] and when she saw it she knew it was taken in Dundalk because of the background. That is where we bought the ship and got it ready and got it loaded.”
The claims are significant in light of the recent controversy surrounding a suspected Mossad operation in Dubai in which Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated.
Those involved in the murder used fake passports, some of which had authentic Irish serial numbers.
“It wasn’t startling because we had an idea that we were being watched,” said Graham.
“I have done this [humanitarian aid missions] for three years and I had them outside my house in Cyprus and following us to the shops.
“I don’t mind the ones that you can see – they are there for intimidation or just to let you know [you are being watched]. But it’s the ones you can’t see that I don’t like.”
Graham believes the Israeli authorities had carried out considerable research on the party before they left for Gaza.
Aside from photographing members of the aid mission, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was also aware of the original name of the MV Rachel Corrie and refused to address it by its new one.
“They had their research done to know it was called the MV Linda before we renamed it,” he said.
Nobody in the Israeli embassy could be reached for comment yesterday.
Labour’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Michael D Higgins said that such actions could be seen as a potential diplomatic incident.
“If it was true, and taken in the context of all the other actions that have taken place [involving clandestine Israeli operations], it has to be part of the judgement of Micheál Martin in terms of what is done on the passport issue,” he said.
“It would be of the same category of action and impropriety as the use of Irish passports [by Israeli agents]. These are not the actions of countries with friendly diplomatic relations.”
irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 18:11
An Irishman who was part of a Gaza bound aid flotilla raided by the Israeli Defence Forces http://flotillamassacrepassengers.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phptoday said he saw nothing to suggest any of the peace activists were in possession of weapons.
Shane Dillion, from Blackrock in Dublin, said the fire fighting defences of the flotilla’s largest ship, the Mavi Marmara , were activated when the commandos attempted to board, as was the norm for pirate attacks, and that rubbish bins were thrown from the deck.
He rejected Israeli claims that some of the activists were armed during the attack which killed at least nine people.
“Any of the weapons I have seen demonstrated by the Israeli defence forces were typical equipment that you would have on a ship,” said Mr Dillon, a member of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“There was a knife for a galley. They also showed a sledgehammer, which would be on a merchant vessel for anchor cables etc. There was nothing on display to show there were any weapons.”
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Mr Dillon said there was a screening system and electronic detectors onboard the largest boat in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara , to check it passengers for weapons. He returned from Israel last night.
Mr Dillon, who was travelling on the Challenger 1 in the flotilla, said when the Israeli commandos boarded the ship the activists engaged in “purely non violent and verbal protection” to allow him time to get video footage of the attack uploaded to the internet.
He said the Israeli’s initially focused their attention on the journalist onboard as it appeared they did not want footage, photographs or reports of what had transpired to be released.
Mr Dillon said he was disgusted at the behaviour of the Israeli defence forces. “To my mind it is an act of piracy – a terrorist act in international waters on a flotilla of people involved in peaceful humanitarian aid mission to Gaza,” he said.
He also said he feared for the safety of the other activists. “We could see the stun grenades going off, we could hear the tasers being deployed. They were also firing high power paintball guns at the passengers and crew of the Mavi Marmara .”
He said commandos boarded the Challenger 1 with force and fired taser and paintball guns as well as hitting people with the butts of their riles.
By Shane Hickey
Saturday June 05 2010
TWO Irish campaigners deported from Israel told yesterday how they were beaten and repeatedly threatened while in custody after they were taken from the flotilla of boats that has caused international controversy.
Fiachra O Luain (28) and Dr Fintan Lane (43) arrived back in Dublin airport yesterday and said they had both feared for their lives during the incident, which resulted in their deportation from Israel to Turkey.
Mr O Luain said he was “brutalised” while in custody in Ben Gurion Airport and said there were bruises all around his body.
When he was initially taken from the boat, he refused to talk to anyone apart from a lawyer. he said.
“As soon as one of them grabbed me, about 15 or 20 jumped me, kicked me, punched me as soon as I hit the ground,”
“They had my arm in stress positions, they tried to break my finger.”
He said he feared for his life during his time in custody and at one stage asked to see a rabbi.
“I asked to see a rabbi and they told me I would only see a rabbi when they killed me,”
He said they were repeatedly threatened and he had his passport taken from him.
His mother Eleanor Lamb said last Monday — when the boats were raided — had been “absolute hell”.
Both he and Dr Lane, who were on board the Challenger vessel, were welcomed into Dublin airport by a crowd from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC).
Dr Lane, a historian from Co Cork, said he had refused to sign any documentation from the Israeli security services and repeated that he was being kept in the country against his will.
When the vessel he was on was stormed, he said the Israeli boats surrounded their vessel “like hyenas” and at one point a soldier told him to move a few inches with such aggression that he believed his life was under threat. “I believe that soldier would have shot me,” he said.
Another man who holds an Irish passport and was on board the vessels, Isam Bin Ali, described the Israelis as being “like mafia” during the storming of the flotilla.
- Shane Hickey
Two pro-Palestinian activists who were raised in the United States, and who were on board the main ship in the flotilla challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza last week when it was raided by Israeli commandos, have denied a claim by Israel’s military that they are “involved in terrorist activity.”
Fatima Mohammadi, an American lawyer from Chicago, and Ken O’Keefe, a former American marine, were both on a list of “Active Terror Operatives,” posted on the official blog of the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday. The I.D.F. statement, which named five passengers on board the Mavi Marmara “known to be involved in terrorist activity,” included factual errors about both Ms. Mohammadi and Mr. O’Keefe.
The Israeli statement misspelled Ms. Mohammadi’s first and last names, calling her “Fatimah Mahmadi”; said she is “an active member of the organization ‘Viva Palestine’ ” — she is a former employee of Viva Palestina; and called her “a United States resident of Iranian origin.” She is an American citizen who was born in Tehran in 1979 and moved — with her American mother and Iranian father — to Boise, Idaho, after the Iranian revolution that year.
In an e-mail interview on Tuesday, Ms. Mohammadi — whose Facebook page lists “Rabble Rousing” under “Activities” — told The Lede that the Israeli authorities made no such claims to her while she was in their custody, “though they were very interested in the fact that I was born in Iran.” She added:
I saw the statement on Sunday afternoon after I arrived in the U.S. and I was shocked. On one hand, it’s incredibly comical because it’s so illegitimate and unfounded, but on the other hand, I am angered that they would attempt to discredit humanitarian aid workers in such a fear-based manner.
The Israeli statement also claimed that Ms. Mohammadi “attempted to smuggle forbidden electronic components into the Gaza Strip.” Ms. Mohammadi said:
I have no idea what they’re referring to as the only electronics I had in my possession or in my bag were personal items: a camera, a video camera, and my personal phones. All electronics, including laptops, were confiscated at our arrest while on board the ship and none have been returned. Any cameras that did make their way to Turkey were either smashed or, at the very least, stripped of their memory cards.
She also said that she witnessed the deadly commando raid on the ship:
I was on the top deck (fifth deck) when the shooting began and stayed up until a cameraman about 2 meters away from me was shot twice in the arm. After I took him to the medical deck and helped there, I scurried between the second, third and fourth decks, slipping on blood all the way. Most of my time was spent on the medical deck, however, tending to the victims of the massacre. Two men died in front of me.
The I.D.F. statement called the other activist, Ken O’Keefe, “an American and British citizen.” The Irish Times reported on Tuesday: “Mr. O’Keefe, who lives in London, has carried an Irish passport since 2003 due to his grandmother, from Listowel, Co. Kerry. He has never taken British citizenship and says he renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2001.”
Mr. O’Keefe is well-known in Britain for his antiwar activism. In 2003, he appeared on the BBC to explain why he had volunteered to serve as a human shield in Iraq to try to prevent an American attack.
On Tuesday, The Times of London explained:
The words inked into the right hand of the 1991 Gulf War veteran — “U.S. Expatriot, 01-03-01, R.I.P.” — mark the date that he renounced his U.S. citizenship after what he called a taste of military injustice. Mr. O’Keefe said that he was subjected to institutional bullying in the U.S. Marine Corps after he went over the head of his commanding officer to report an unspecified infraction.
The Israeli military’s statement said that he is “a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organization. He attempted to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organization.”
Mr. O’Keefe angrily denied these charges in an interview with Al Jazeera.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth’s Ynet News Web site reported on Monday that Mr. O’Keefe told Hurryiet, a Turkish newspaper, that he had helped to capture two of the commandos as soon as they landed on the ship. He said, “The lives of the three commandos were at our mercy — we could have done with them whatever we wanted.” He also said he had helped to disarm one of the commandos: “I took one of their guns, and another activist grabbed him. He had a 9mm gun. We didn’t use the weapons against the Israeli soldiers. I unloaded the magazine and took out the bullets — we didn’t come here to fight.”
Eventually, he added, the activists decided to release the soldiers unharmed. “They looked at us, and thought we were about to kill them, but then we let them go,” he said.
Mr. O’Keefe later gave Ynet a longer account of the raid in an interview with the Israeli newspaper.
Specific Flotilla Passengers are Active Terror Operatives Linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Other Organizations
6 June 2010
The following passengers on board the Mavi Marmara are known to be involved in terrorist activity. The Mavi Marmara attempted to break the maritime closure on the Gaza Strip on Monday, May 31st 2010, and was boarded by Israel Navy forces.
Fatimah Mahmadi (born 1979), is a United States resident of Iranian origin, and an active member of the organization “Viva Palestine”, she attempted to smuggle forbidden electronic components into the Gaza Strip.
Ken O’Keefe (Born 1969), an American and British citizen, is a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organization. He attempted to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organization.
Hassan Iynasi (born 1982), a Turkish citizen and activist in a Turkish charity organization, is known of providing financial support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Terror organization.
Hussein Urosh, a Turkish citizen and activist in the IHH organization, was on his way to the Gaza Strip in order to assist in smuggling Al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey into the Strip.
Ahmad Umimon (born 1959), is a French citizen of Moroccan origin, and an operative of the Hamas Terrorist organization.
I write to inform you that last night the Israeli Defence Force issued a statement identifying Ken O’Keefe as an ‘Active Terror Operative’. Ken was labelled ‘…a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organisation.’ They went on to accuse him of ‘attempt(ing) to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organisation.’
Ken responded by making a counter charge. From his hotel room in Istanbul this morning, he issued a statement in which he called the US, Britain and Israel ‘the greatest terrorists of our time’.
Ken attempted to enter Gaza aboard the Mavi Marmara. He intended to meet with officials from the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in relation to his role as company director for Aloha Palestine, a social enterprise established to conduct SafeTrade between Cyprus and Gaza. Ken felt strongly that AP should not have any political undertones, and that the company would “not deviate from its commitment to trade in goods that build security and promote peace. Aloha Palestine will not trade in weapons or instruments of violence of any kind ever.”
Four other individuals were identified as terror operatives, including two Turkish citizens. There are concerns that these five individuals are now ‘marked’ as targets of future assassination attempts by Mossad, Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.
The IDF identified Ken O’Keefe as an American and British citizen, despite dealing with Irish consular officials in relation to his deportation from Israel.
Please call +44 7890 140 170 to arrange an interview with Ken.
Ken’s statement in full:
“In response to the Israeli government’s claims that I, Ken O’Keefe, am an operative of Hamas who intended to train terrorists in Gaza, I make a counter charge; Israel and the United States, along with their British partner, are the greatest terrorists of our time. Selling, distributing and using more weapons of mass destruction than all other nations combined. When I speak of terrorism I am using the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of the word, with that definition it is clear that the United States is the number one terrorist of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are over 800,000 innocent children in Gaza that are among the victims of Israel’s terrorism, in fact the entire population of Palestine is victim of said terrorism. I do not say this as inciteful rhetoric, I say it as a moral, thinking human being who is capable of seeing the truth.
Despite the threats and slandorous charges I will not repeat the sickening pattern of rejecting the legitimate right of self defense, I wholeheartedly support that right.
As for the charges made against me, the truth lies within my actions in life. I am available for interviews and will happily discuss my associations and actions. My path in life is an open book, and one that I am blessed and proud to have walked.”
I write to inform you about Ken O’Keefe, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was stormed by the Israeli military in the early hours of Monday 31st May, towed to Ashdod Port in Israel and all its passengers detained.
Just a brief background on Ken: He was born and raised in California and served in the US Marine Corps, being deployed to Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. After many years spent working in the field of marine conservation and green sea turtle rescues (funded by his scuba diving operation, Deep Ecology) and Hawaiian Sovereignty, he left the US shortly after the events of 911 and renounced his US citizenship, entering into the political asylum process in Holland. In 2003 he initiated and led the Human Shield Action to Iraq during the invasion. In 2008 he served as a captain and 1st mate with the Free Gaza Movement, which ended the 41 year siege of Gaza by sailing two boats into Gaza. He is currently the director of Aloha Palestine, a company he co-founded to establish a lawful passenger and cargo shipping service between Cyprus and Gaza. He joined the Freedom Flotilla to meet with the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, exporters and others in relation to Aloha Palestine. However, while on board he took on the role of defending the ship.
Ken has appeared on a number of news programs and live news broadcasts as a political analyst since 2008.
Ken was transferred to Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday and was due to be deported by the Israeli authorities to Istanbul, then repatriated to Dublin by the Irish officials. He refused deportation and demanded that he be sent to Gaza, or the Occupied Palestinian Territories, using his Palestinian travel documents (he was awarded Palestinian citizenship when he captained one of the two Free Gaza boats into Gaza in August 2008). The Israelis acknowledged that he is a Palestinian citizen, but refused his demand on the basis that his passport was invalid since it had not been registered.
The general atmosphere in the airport on Wednesday was quite chaotic, and a scuffle broke out. Ken was bashed on the forehead and then badly beaten by the Israeli officials/police. He sustaineds a large bloody gash on his head, and some bruised ribs. When I spoke with him he had a hoarse, croaky voice. He had been put in a head lock until he nearly passed out. His aggressor released Ken at the last possible moment. Ken refused medical attention because he was not allowed access to a lawyer, nor was he being allowed to make phone calls.
On Thursday Ken’s case went before a judge who ruled that he be detained pending deportation (Ken wanted to be released without charge).
Having already been complaining of dizziness following his first beating by Israeli police, Ken was beaten again that night in his cell. Again, he has refused treatment for his injuries. Ken was unable to eat for a few days as his throat was sore following being held in a head lock on Wednesday.
He wanted to appeal his deportation and go to Gaza, but his solicitor advised him that for his own safety he should leave Israel. The longer he stayed, the greater the detriment to his health. On Friday morning he signed his Emergency Travel Documents provided to him by the Irish Consulate and was booked onto a flight to Istanbul.
Israeli officials asked him to clean himself up as his face was bloody and he was quite dishevelled. He refused, as he wanted the world to see what had happened to him. The officials threatened to keep him in custody unless he co-operated, but he called their bluff, and was allowed to board his flight to Istanbul as he was. He was met by Irish Embassy staff and a press conference. He also gave an interview with Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet, which was featured on the front page. Prior to the press conference he had issued the following statement:
“I want to discuss my role in defending the ship and disarming two Israeli commandos along with conditions and treatment while in Israeli custody, including two beatings at the hands of Israeli agents.”
Ken will depart Istanbul on Wednesday 9th June for Dublin, where he will stay for two days before returning home to his wife and baby son on Friday 11th June.
Please find attached a personal statement written by Ken in Istanbul, and below are photographs taken on his arrival to Istanbul.
Press conferences are being arranged in Dublin and London. Please contact me if you would like to interview Ken.