Israel’s entrant for the Olympic marathon has been arrested while visiting his native Ethiopia.
Ayele Seteng, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, returned to the African state for the final stretch of high-altitude training only to be arrested in a long-running debt dispute, local media reported this week.
There is concern in Jerusalem that Seteng, who is expected to undergo a trial, could be forced to miss the Beijing Games in August.
Israeli Sports Minister Raleb Majadele called on the Foreign Ministry to persuade the Ethiopian authorities to expedite proceedings.
“We want to do something for the sake of sport, for our delegation, and for the Olympic Games,” he told Israel Radio. “Therefore there is an obligation to get involved and ensure that this matter is taken care of in the best way possible, and as soon as possible.”
Foreign Ministry officials said the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa is helping Seteng with his case.
The 53-year-old runner came 20th in the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics.