UK-Israel: Tip off from UK intelligence services leads to arrest and release of wrong man


On Saturday 14 July John Morgan from Northern Ireland was arrested by the Israeli Shin
Bet security agency following what now appears to be a tip-off from UK intelligence
services that he was a terrorist suspect - however, it is now a case of mistaken identity as he
is not the "John Morgan" suspected by UK intelligence.

John Morgan was released on Wednesday 16 July by the Israeli authorities.

1. Coverage in Guardian, 16.7.03
2. Statement the Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, 14.7.03

UK-Israeli clash on Belfast detainee
Rosie Cowan and Richard Norton-Taylor
Wednesday July 16, 2003
The Guardian

British and Israeli intelligence services appeared to be at odds yesterday over the arrest of a
west Belfast man suspected of training Palestinian militants. Israeli sources suggested it was
a case of mistaken identity, but Whitehall sources told the Guardian there was no mistake
over the information they supplied.

John Morgan was seized by the Shin Bet security agency at a checkpoint near Ramallah on
Saturday and last night was still being held amid tight security in Tel Aviv.

However, Israeli radio said intelligence sources were now blaming the British for leading
them to the wrong man and said there would have been no arrest without an M15 tip-off.

It seems Mr Morgan, also known by his Irish name Sean O Muireagain, may have been
mistaken for a south Armagh man also called John Morgan and in his early 40s, known to
British and Irish police.

Nevertheless, Israeli officials are saying nothing and British consular staff have been denied
access to Mr Morgan, who can be detained for several weeks without charge.

Family and friends insist he is simply an Irish language expert who went to the Occupied
Territories to set up a schools exchange programme. They have called for his immediate
release.

Mr Morgan has a British passport and has filed several articles to two west Belfast papers
since he arrived in Israel three weeks ago.

"We're out of our minds with worry," said his mother, Theresa Morgan. "The British consul
has tried to get to see him... but has not been allowed in.

"I just wish they would hold their hands up and admit they've got the wrong man. The longer
they hold on to him the worse it looks for them. His father has just had major heart surgery
and this is not doing him one bit of good. I'm pleading with Tony Blair to ask Ariel Sharon
to get our son freed."

Kathleen Connell, a member of the Belfast-based Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
which held a picket in west Belfast last night calling for Mr Morgan's release, said: "There is
a blame game around this issue between the Israeli and British intelligence services, which is
no comfort to this man's family."

She added: "So far, the Israeli authorities have denied the British consul access, which
contravenes the Geneva convention. If they really believed this man was a terrorist, I'm
mystified as to why they would let him into the country unchallenged, and then arrest him
three weeks later at a checkpoint."

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president, and Sean Farren, of the moderate nationalist Social
Democratic and Labour Party, urged the Irish government to put pressure on Israel for Mr
Morgan's release.


For immediate release: 14/07/03

IPSC SLAM REPORTS OF PEACE ACTIVIST BEING INVOLVED IN BOMB
MAKING PLOT

The Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has today rubbished reports that the peace
activist, John Morgan, who was arrested by the Israeli security force, Shin Bet on Saturday
is a Real IRA bomb maker. Mr Morgan, who is well known in Belfast under his Irish name
Sean O'Muireagain, traveled to Palestine three weeks ago to establish

 

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