Menu JTA Search

Five Britons Held by Israel Formally Charged with Spying, Trial Opens in Two Weeks

“The five British prisoners who have been held for several weeks by the Irgun Zvai Leumi and later by the Israeli Government on suspicion of espionage this morning were brought before a magistrate in Tel Aviv and were formally charged with three counts–“espionage, spreading unlawful information and securing information of military value and conveyance thereof.” The charges are based on the former Mandatory Power’s Official Secrets Act and the Emergency Defense Regulations.

The charges announced against the five British subjects said that from May 15, 1948 when the Jewish state was proclaimed, until July 6, 1948, the accused “collected information of military value calculated to be of advantage to the enemy, and used this information in a manner detrimental to the security and interests of the state of Israel.” Inspector Jacob Maltz, appearing en behalf of the police, declared that “there are grounds for believing that the accused are guilty of the charges” and demanded that they beheld for two weeks until their trial opens.

The Britons were brought to court in an armored police car. Leach, a former Palestine police inspector, refused to rise when the magistrate entered the courtroom Maj. Robert Lustig, chief of the Israeli Criminal Investigation Division, who at one time was Leach’s subordinate, shouted at him: “This is not a restaurant. Get up!” Leach promptly complied. Another defendant, Thomas Downs, was released on $4,000 bail on condition that he remain in Nathanya with his Jewish wife.

(At Lake Success, British delegate Sir Alexander Cadogan told the Security Council that Britain will bring charges against Israel for detaining the five Britons. He said the British statement on the whole affair is now in preparation.)

NEXT STORY