Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Halabi Affair

Nothing about the following on DFAT's website, FB or twitter. Ditto for Bishop. Nothing in Fairfax. Nothing in Murdoch's Australian, which has been banging this drum for months:

"The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) says an internal review into World Vision funding in Gaza has uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government aid funding to Hamas. The review was announced last August after World Vision Gaza employee Mohammed El Halabi was arrested and put on trial accused of channelling millions to the militant group. Israeli officials claimed the humanitarian worker siphoned off government funds and charity donations to build tunnels, buy weapons and pay for the salaries of Hamas militants. The Australian Government has given more than $3 million to World Vision projects in Gaza in the past three years.

"The news DFAT found no evidence of the misuse of World Vision funds comes as Mr Halabi's trial continues in Israel. He has rejected a plea deal offered by Israeli authorities and has pleaded not guilty, claiming he is innocent of all charges. Mr Halabi has accused Israeli authorities of torturing him while in custody. Several witnesses the prosecution has presented to court have also accused Israeli intelligence officers of torturing them during interrogation.

"The NGO has stood beside Mr Halabi, saying he is a trusted employee and that they have also found no evidence yet of the diversion of World Vision funds. World Vision chief advocate Tim Costello said he was very pleased to hear the results of the review. So far, our own ongoing forensic audit has not uncovered any money subverted and to hear DFAT say their investigation hasn't either is consistent and very good news,' Mr Costello told ABC news.

"Despite numerous court hearings in Mr Halabi's trial, Israeli authorities have not yet produced any evidence to back up the explosive claims made against Halabi by Israeli officials... DFAT said Australia's funding to World Vision in the Palestinian territories remained suspended until they considered the outcomes of the court case against Mr Halabi and reviews being undertaken by World Vision." (No evidence of diversion of World Vision funds to Hamas DFAT says, Sophie McNeill,, 21/3/17)

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