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New Zealand national claims abuse by Israel

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — New Zealand is investigating a complaint that one of its nationals was beaten in an Israeli jail.

Harmeet Sooden, who was held hostage in Iraq for 118 days in 2005, was refused entry to Israel in June and detained for three days by Israeli authorities.

The 35-year-old native of Canada was on his way to work for the International Solidarity Movement, a controversial pro-Palestinian activist organization. Israeli authorities believed he was a security risk.

Sooden claims he was assaulted by Israeli officials, placed in solitary confinement and "subjected to psychological abuse," according to the Dominion Post newspaper.

The report said New Zealand’s foreign ministry neither confirmed nor denied whether it would act on the complaint.

"As Israel is a democratic country, all people that have contact with the Ministry of Interior have the right to comment on this contact through the requisite authorities in Israel," said Dor Shapira, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.

Sooden claims in his 28-page letter of complaint that he was not allowed to engage a lawyer while in detention and was refused assistance from New Zealand consular officials.

The Dominion Post said Sooden also has written to the United Nations, Canada and Britain regarding his treatment.

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