/ 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.
_ said the spies' release had caused a storm of angry reactions in the
According to the paper, Akel said the pair's release showed that the
government was untrustworthy and dangerously sensitive to outside
"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
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
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.
_ 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.
_ noted that if the two returned, they would have to carry out the rest of
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999