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Captain of Gaza flotilla ship arrested in Athens

Captain John Klusmer is being charged with two felonies
Ma'an News Agency

The captain of a US boat carrying activists seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza was jailed July 2 in Athens, flotilla organizers said. John Klusmer, who was handcuffed and jailed after arriving at a police station that afternoon, is being charged with two felonies, organizers told reporters at a news conference in the Greek capital. He and the organizers understood the charges to be misdemeanors, but authorities later accused him of two felonies. The captain’s four-member crew is being detained on the boat. While passengers are free to go, they are staying on the Audacity of Hope as a show of solidarity with their captain and crew.

US Boat to Gaza organizer Jane Hirschmann told reporters the captain is charged with disobeying a police order not to leave the port and "disturbing sea traffic." The latter charge drew laughs from reporters. Hirschmann responded, “That’s an interesting one, isn’t it?”

Hirschmann said the second charge was the result of a complaint lodged against the flotilla by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center which is funded by US right-wing activist and fundamentalist pastor John Hagee. Hirschmann called the charges “bogus.”

Hirschmann said the flotilla would not sail without The Audacity of Hope. Asked if the US boat had been effectively immobilized, Hirschmann responded, “We don’t know, we’re the Audacity of Hope and the audacity of hope triumphs over the audacity of violence and the audacity of threats. And our boat has not been impounded. Yet.”

Also in Athens, Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti remarked that “We consider this boat, this flotilla, one part of peaceful non-violent resistance, one part of peaceful non-violent struggle.” He added that "this kind of struggle of the international community, joined with the Palestinian struggle—which is going on non-violently and peacefully—is one way of liberating Palestinians from occupation. It is also one way of liberating the Israeli people from the same occupation and the same apartheid because the Israelis themselves will never be free as long as the Palestinians are not free."

Barghouti called on the Greek government to allow the flotilla to sail, saying the flotilla and other acts of non-violent resistance in the occupied Palestinian territories resemble “the best traditions of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi.” (Maan News Agency, July 2)

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