ATHENS (May. 2)
An Israeli citizen was in custody here for 24 hours last week on the complaint of a Palestine Liberation Organization official that the Israeli was planning to kill him.
Itzhak Ferara, 35, was arrested at Athens airport Thursday morning, held incommunicado for 24 hours and released Friday. No charges were filed against him. Ismat Sabri, 33, the PLO counselor here, had identified him at a police lineup as the alleged “hit man.”
Sabri said he entered his apartment building last Wednesday evening and saw a couple studying the directory of tenants. He said he questioned them and was told by the man that they were looking for a friend.
He said the couple then walked aimlessly around the area. Sabri said he followed them. They returned to the apartment building, got into a rental car and left. Sabri gave the car’s license number to the police, saying he feared he was a target of Israeli agents.
He said he asked the couple if they were Israelis and they said they were. The police acting on Sabri’s suspicion, arrested Ferara at the airport just before he went to passport control for departure.
Contrary to diplomatic practice, he was not allowed to contact the Israeli diplomatic mission here nor was the mission informed of his arrest. The police admitted Ferara was in custody only after the PLO announced his arrest at a news conference.
PLO emissaries are obviously nervous since the April 18 assassination of Khalil al-Wazir, the leader of Al Fatah, at his villa in suburban Tunis. The act is widely attributed to Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though the Israeli government has neither confirmed nor denied it.
Diplomatic observers here said if the Mossad wanted to eliminate Sabri, it had ample opportunity to do so without sending agents to wander aimlessly around his apartment building.