UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Jan. 28)
New spy trials were reported under way yesterday in Iraq, where 14 men–nine Jews among them–were hanged Monday on charges of espionage for Israel. Charges against the new defendants involved alleged spying for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was reported here that 35 persons–13 of them Jews–would be tried on charges of espionage and sabotage.
A number of foreign nations have appealed to Israel to forego reprisals out of fear that another Mideast war would result. It appeared that expectation of reprisal–possibly against Iraqi troops based in Jordan–stemmed from remarks by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in the Knesset (Parliament) on Monday. As he read the names of the Jews hanged in Baghdad and Basra, Mr. Eshkol used the Hebrew phrase that is spoken after the name of someone who has fallen in battle or has been murdered. He also said, “the Lord shall avenge their blood.” Some observers took this to mean Israel was bent on revenge. But informed sources said yesterday Israel made no threat but was trying by every possible means to save the 2,500 Jews left in Iraq and to avert further death sentences. Israel has charged that 65 person face trial and possible execution.
The new and still secret spy trials were announced Tuesday in Baghdad by Information Minister Abdullah Salum but the defendants were not identified. He denounced Israel earlier for what he called a propaganda campaign against Iraq in connection with the trials and said it was the forerunner of military aggression against Arab countries, Iraq in particular. Salum charged Israel with atrocities and said that the revolutionary court trying the alleged spies disregarded their religion. He asserted that Iraqi Jews enjoy full rights and that those arrested during the 1967 Arab-Israel war had been released.