Brother of Security Prisoner Gave Arab MK Cellphones to Smuggle Into Jail, Indictment Charges

Asad Daqqa accused of giving Basel Ghattas four packages containing 12 cellphones and SIM cards.

Asad Daqqa in Be'er Sheva District Court, January 1, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The brother of a Palestinian security prisoner was indicted Sunday for providing MK Basel Ghattas with cellphones that were allegedly smuggled to other security prisoners during a visit to an Israeli jail last month.

Asad Daqqa is accused of conspiring with his brother, Walid Daqqa, and Ghattas (Joint List) to smuggle the phones into Ketziot Prison. Ghattas is currently under house arrest while police investigate the suspicions against him.

According to the indictment filed in Be’er Sheva District Court by the Southern District Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday, Asad Daqqa knew that his actions would endanger lives.

“The accused was aware of the fact that the communications equipment would be given to security prisoners serving time in prison, and saw in advance that it was almost certain that the equipment would be used to endanger lives, or to cause someone serious injury, or to harm the security of the state, or to help a terror organization,” the indictment read.

The indictment stated that Ghattas and Asad Daqqa met at a Dor Alon gas station on Route 6, where the accused allegedly gave the Arab lawmaker four packages containing 12 cellphones, 16 SIM cards and additional equipment.

Ghattas then met with Walid Daqqa in Ketziot Prison and allegedly gave him documents, whose contents were not mentioned in the indictment. Afterward, Ghattas met with another security prisoner, Basel Bizra, and allegedly handed over the four packages to him.

Asad Daqqa faces charges of working with items for the purpose of terror and bringing in equipment (radio, cellphones) to the prison illegally.

Daqqa’s attorney, Alaa Tellawi, said, “We are not familiar with the investigative material. In the coming days we will receive it and formulate a position.”

Tellawi said the prosecution had no direct evidence that the equipment would have been used to endanger state security, adding, “The identity of those receiving the phones is what created the suspicion.”

Israeli Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas arrives for questioning in relation to accusations that he smuggled cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners, December 21, 2016.
Nir Keidar

Ghattas was questioned by the Lahav 433 fraud investigation unit about two weeks ago on suspicion of smuggling the cellphones into the prison, and was placed under house arrest for 10 days on December 27.

Ghattas claimed that while he did receive a package to give to Walid Daqqa, he assumed it contained books. Speaking to the Arab 48 website last week, the lawmaker called the case against him “political persecution,” which “comes in the framework of the political harassment of Arab citizens.”

Last week, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein allowed the police to conduct a search of Ghattas’ office in the Knesset. The granting of such a request was a highly unusual step, one that has not been taken in almost 40 years. Ghattas’ home was also searched. The investigation against him continues.