SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian man accused of working for Hamas denied any association with the terrorist organization during an appearance in an Israeli courtroom.
Eyad Abu Arja, 46, was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport in March and accused of training in Syria with Hamas. The indictment alleges that Hamas operatives asked the computer scientist to check if he could enter and exit Israel easily using his Australian passport.
Arja told the media Monday at the District Court in Petach Tikvah that “I’d like to say loud and clear that I’m not a member of Hamas, never was and never will or any other group.
“I am an Australian tourist who came to this country with my wife to celebrate our 25th anniversary of our marriage and ended up in jail,” he said.
Arja is a Palestinian refugee who gained Jordanian citizenship and moved to Saudi Arabia before settling in Australia. His wife, who also was arrested in March but released, and five children live in Australia.
The court ordered Arja to be held in custody until the end of his trial, which is scheduled to begin July 18.