TEL AVIV (Jan. 31)
Hans Lebrecht, an Israeli journalist accused of having contacts with enemy agents, was released from jail yesterday on IL 100,000 bail by order of a Tel Aviv magistrate. His Cypriot colleague, Pascali Panitatis, charged with espionage, remained in prison pending the completion of judicial procedures. Both men were remanded in custody on Jan. 25. No trial date was set.
Lebrecht, a member of Israel’s Rakah (Communist) Party is a correspondent for Communist newspapers in Israel and abroad. He was accused of transmitting classified information to Palestinian terrorists through Panitatis. Panitatis, also a Communist Party member, allegedly had contacts with terrorist groups in Lebanon and transferred classified material to them by way of three Palestine Liberation Organization representatives in Cyprus. He was also charged with providing terrorist groups with photographs of possible civilian targets in Israel.
The magistrate who ordered bail said the evidence against Lebrecht was flimsy but that there was little doubt that Panitatis came to Israel in the service of terrorist organizations with which he maintained contact in Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Press Association in Israel has engaged a prominent Tel Aviv attorney, Dr. Yehoshua Rottenstreich, to follow the case to determine whether any procedures or precedents growing out of it could affect the news gathering duties of other correspondents working in Israel. Rottenstreich has declined any fee for his service.