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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-08-13

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


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Friday, August 13, 1999

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/ Angry reactions to spies' release

/

ALL OF yesterday's papers gave front-page attention to the release of two Israeli spies, Udi Hargov and Igal Damary, following a pardon from President Glafcos Clerides.

_Politis

_ said the spies' release had caused a storm of angry reactions in the political arena.

According to the paper, Akel said the pair's release showed that the government was untrustworthy and dangerously sensitive to outside influences.

"The presidential pardon given to the two Israeli spies, as well as the cheap excuse of the jailers that 'the issue will serve our national interest' provokes feelings of anger and indignation," the paper quoted from an Akel statement.

Accusing the government of "helping the spies to escape", Akel said the state had acted "without having the courage to make public their decision, or the real reasons behind the unacceptable decision."

Akel's statements also said the decision had been made without taking the House of Representatives' opinion into account.

The statement added that Akel held Attorney-general Alecos Markides partly responsible for the decision, noting that he had in the past told the House that the possibility of the spies not serving their entire term "was not an issue."

According to Politis, Diko said it was the President's "exclusive right to pardon prisoners, but it is also the right of the citizens and the political parties to judge the way in which this privilege is used."

Diko said the entire issue had been treated as a political trade from the moment that Markides and the government decided to cut down on the two Israelis' charges from spying to entry into a restricted area.

"The release of the convicts, which according to the Constitution, takes place with the advice of the Attorney-general, confirms the impression of such a trade."

Diko continued, "we will be the first the express satisfaction if Clerides' action helps national interest as he said it would." Yiannakis Omirou of Edek, also disagreed with the spies' release. Omirou was Defence Minister when Hargov and Damary were arrested. He said, "as the President also knows, the two convicted Israelis put the national security of the country in peril, at a high degree, helping the Turkish side."

Omirou added that, "because of this, I feel obliged to say that I cannot understand for what reasons, which national interest is served with this pardon."

According to the paper, New Horizons called the incident a case of "National self-humiliation." "The government did not even have the basic courage to make it's decision public," said a New Horizons statement.

"The government has completed our national self-humiliation with the release of the spies." The small right-wing party added that the action was fitting "for the banana republic we have become." Alithia said that the action had been taken to "Make an opening in the Jewish lobby." The paper said that the two men had been sentenced to three years. According to Alithia, a government announcement said there was no reason to keep the Israelis in prison, "as it no longer serves national interest." The government statement, according to the paper, also said that the move had been made as a gesture towards the new Barak government.

The paper said that, according to its sources, Clerides had made the decision before he went on holiday. Alithia also said that the move had been made after Israeli and Jewish organisations in the United States approached the government.

_Simerini

_ had the headline, "Israeli spies freed after pressure." The paper described how the two men were taken from the Central Prisons to Larnaca airport, where they boarded a small private jet and left for home.

_Simerini

_ noted that if the two returned, they would have to carry out the rest of their sentence.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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