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Israel High Court bars Palestinian from studying abroad over nonexistent evidence

12:00 Jan 23 2012 Jerusalem

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Lawyer says High Court apparently mixed up two similar cases when it barred a Palestinian man from pursuing studies in Germany - and is refusing to acknowledge the error.

By Amira Hass for Haaretz

The High Court of Justice apparently mixed up two similar cases when it barred a Palestinian student from going abroad to study - and is refusing to acknowledge the error, his lawyer said Monday.

In its ruling the court said it was blocking Mohanned Darwish, 26, from pursuing studies in Germany based on "statements to the police" and classified material that was submitted to the justices.

Darwish's attorney, Elad Cahana of Moked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual , said no police evidence had been presented in Darwish's case. But police evidence was introduced, Cahana said, in a similar case he argued that day, before the justices. He believes the justices confused the two cases.

Last year Darwish, a graduate student at Bir Zeit University, won a scholarship from the German government for a two-month internship at a German university, starting on October 4.

In August Darwish, who has Jordanian citizenship, was stopped at the border "for security reasons" when he tried to cross into Jordan to visit relatives and to renew his passport. When an appeal to the district Liasion Office was rejected, Moked petitioned the High Court on his behalf.

In its response to the petition the state said security officials believed there was a danger "that allowing the petitioner, a Hamas activist, to travel abroad" could be exploited for the purpose of activities that could jeopardize security in the area.

In 2008 Darwish was arrested en route to Jordan for offenses, including holding contacts with Hamas operatives, committed when he was 17 or 18 years old. He confessed, went to prison and was released in March 2009.

Cahana argued in court that Darwish no longer posed any security risk and that barring him from foreign travel amounted to punishing him further, after he had completed his sentence.

Justices Eliezer Rivlin, Elyakim Rubinstein and Hanan Melcer issued their ruling on October 9. They wrote that while Darwish believed the evidence he submitted did not support a claim of his being a security risk, "We examined this material, as well as the classified material, and found no reason to interfere in the [state's] decision."

Cahana informed the court immediately about the absence of police evidence in Darwish's case and requested a clarification of the ruling.

Last week Cahana received a one-sentence response from the court: "There is no basis for correcting the verdict." Their was no mention of an error over the evidence.
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