The arrest of a Belfast man by Israeli security forces in the West Bank on suspicion that he was a bombmaker for the Real IRA looks like a case of mistaken identity.
An Irish newspaper said yesterday that the man was one of its journalists and had nothing to do with the Real IRA. The newspaper, Lá, demanded that the journalist, Sean O'Muireagain, be released. He is also known under the English name of John Morgan. His parents said yesterday that he was on a cultural visit to arrange school exchanges.
The arrest, at a roadblock in the West Bank on Saturday, was believed to have been made after a tip-off from the British security services. It sparked fears that the Real IRA was passing on its skills in making bombs and mortars to Palestinian militant groups.
A senior Israeli government source said there was genuine concern that they had the wrong man. He said: "It's possible you've got some innocent schmuck and he's been made into an international terrorist."
Ciaran O Pronntaigh, the editor of the Belfast-based Lá newspaper, said: "On July 8, we published a full-page account from Jenin by Sean O Muireagain in our paper, a piece which was accompanied by his photograph, proof that he was in the occupied territories openly. We demand his immediate release."
The man in custody arrived at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport three weeks ago, travelling openly on his own British passport, and was allowed into Israel on a tourist visa.Reuse content