WASHINGTON (Nov. 22)
In continuing fallout over a controversial appeals court ruling last week on the case of John Demjanjuk, the Anti-Defamation League has criticized the court for offering “fodder to the anti-Semites among us.”
The section of the decision that sparked the most controversy among Jewish leaders here implied that Allan Ryan Jr., had gone to Israel in 1986 on a lecture tour sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League while Ryan was the head of a Justice Department Nazi-hunting unit.
But angry ADL officials said last week that Ryan had left the department’s Office of Special Investigations in 1983 and was a private citizen when he went to Israel — a fact Ryan himself confirmed Monday in a telephone interview.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last Wednesday overturned Demjanjuk’s 1986 extradition from the United States to Israel.
Demjanjuk was acquitted in Israel earlier this year of being the Nazi death camp guard “Ivan the Terrible.”
In its opinion, the court said attorneys from OSI worked very closely with “various interest groups.”
The court ruled that the Justice Department prosecutors had withheld information and implied that the department had bowed to pressure from Jewish groups.
ADL National Chairman Melvin Salberg and National Director Abraham Foxman wrote last week to the judges in Cincinnati and to Attorney General Janet Reno, criticizing the decision and the allegations that ADL exerted undue influence over OSI.
“Rather than limiting yourselves to questions regarding OSI’s handling of a particular case, you have, without any proof, offered fodder to the anti-Semites among us by making a sweeping and inflammatory allegation that the Jewish community set out to be manipulate OSI and that OSI allowed itself to be manipulated,” the ADL leaders wrote to the Cincinnati judges.
‘INACCURATE AND MISLEADING REFERENCE’
The letter urged the judges to correct the record over the “inaccurate and misleading reference to the ADL.”
From his office at Harvard University, Ryan said Monday that he was “very annoyed, to say the least,” that the court did not mention anywhere in its opinion that he was no longer in government in 1986 and “implied I took the trip as a government official.”
In 1986, Ryan was working as an attorney at Harvard University.
Ryan said he was “considering a great many things” that he could do in response to the court decision, but that he had not yet made a final decision on his course of action.
Debra Nagle, the court’s public information officer, said Monday that under normal court rules, the ADL letter would be put into a file and not passed along to the judges.
The court only looks at communications from parties with special “amicus” status with the court, and Nagle said ADL does not have such status.
But she said there was no way of telling what would happen in this case, which “has not followed the norm in any of its aspects.”
The judges “may very well” review the letter, although no one in the court had received the letter as of Monday, she said.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department had no specific comment Monday on the ADL letter, nor did the department comment further on the Demjanjuk case beyond what Reno said last Thursday.
At that time, Reno said the department intended “to effect Demjanjuk’s prompt removal from the United States as soon as we determine his legal status.”