WASHINGTON (Oct. 5)
The State Department said today that it was investigating the case of Jonathan Bates, a NY graduate student being secretly tried by a military court in Damascus for alleged espionage. Bates is reportedly of Jewish origin and reportedly spent some months in Israel before he was arrested in Syria last Feb. 9.
State Department spokesman John King said the Department learned only in recent days of Bates’ arrest and trial. The US has no diplomatic relations with Syria. American interests are handled by the Italian Embassy in Damascus. King said Bates is the son of Prof. Ralph Bates of New York, whom he described as a British subject.
The Bates case was linked to the arrest by Syrian authorities a month ago of Maj. Robert H. Barrett, assistant military attache of the US Embassy in Amman. Maj. Barrett was seized by Syrian police while in transit from Jordan to Lebanon.
King disclosed today that Deya Fattel, an official of the Syrian Mission to the United Nations, has been served notice that his US visa has been revoked as of Oct. 2. The Department spokesman refused to disclose the reason for revocation of the visa. He said the notice was served on Fattel either in Rome or Damascus.
It was reported meanwhile that US authorities acting on the administration’s promise to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks after the Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes, has begun a major effort to identify possible terrorists among Arabs residing in this country and to screen travelers from Arab lands. The State Department estimates there are about 6300 Arab students in the US.