Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson and Seán Crowe TD have appealed to the Bulgarian Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs to reject Israeli attempts to extradite Palestinian political prisoner Omar Zayed Nayef.
Ms Anderson said,
“Omar Zayed Nayef was arrested by occupation forces in May 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment. After a 40 day hunger strike in 1990, he was transferred to hospital in Bethlehem where he escaped in May, disappeared and left Palestine.
“In 1994, he travelled to Bulgaria. Omar married a Bulgarian citizen and has Bulgarian children; he runs a Palestinian grocery store and is well-known in the Palestinian community of Sofia
“On Tuesday 15th December, the Israeli embassy sent a letter to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice demanding the extradition of Omar Zayed Nayef, labelling him a ‘fugitive from justice.’
“Omar’s home was raided on Thursday 17th December; he was not home but his son was arrested and held for one day. The Bulgarian prosecuteor has been quoted in Arabic media calling for his imprisonment and quick extradition to Tel Aviv.
“This is unacceptable and the persecution of Omar Zayed Nayef is a further campaign to criminalize the Palestinian struggle for Statehood. It is a threat to Palestinians fleein persecution and it is imperative that Bulgaria reject Israeli demands to extradite Omar.
Sinn Féin Deputy Seán Crowe TD, spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, added,
“I too add my personal appeal to the Bulgarian authorities not to extradite Omar Nayef Zayed to Israel.
“Omar is a former political prisoner and hunger striker, who should not be sent to Israel where he cannot receive a fair trial. Although he escaped from detention in 1990, as he met the criteria for release under the Oslo Peace Agreement he would have been freed in 1993 .
“Omar Nayef Zayed has been openingly living in Bulgaria for 22 years and has made a new life there. The Bulgarian authorities should resist Israeli pressure to turn the clock back and their latest attempt to criminalise and deport him.”