Palestinian charged by Turkey for spying wanted to immigrate to Europe: family

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Samer Shaban, one of two Palestinians charged by Turkey with espionage, was in Turkey with his family in hopes to immigrate to Europe, according to his uncle. Zaki Mubarak, the other Palestinian charged with espionage died early Monday morning in Turkish custody.

Abdullah Shaban, the uncle of Samer Shaban, told Al Arabiya English that his nephew, who worked for the Palestinian police, left Gaza in 2007 because he, and other police officers, was wanted by the Hamas for protesting the coup it carried out against the Palestinian government led by Fatah. Samer Shaban left the Gaza strip to Egypt and then to the UAE, where he remained as an employee of the Palestinian police force until he retired in 2018.

The US and the EU have classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Sources told Al Arabiya that he worked in the Palestinian consulate in Dubai, adding that it was customary for former pro-Fatah government employees who worked in Gaza prior to 2007 to remain on their original payrolls, even if they left their posts due to Hamas’ takeover of the strip.

Samer Shaban’s uncle denied what has been circulated in the media about his nephew being connected to Mohammad Dahlan, a former leader in the Fatah party, saying he is one of “Yasser Arafat’s followers” and that any other information is just fabrication from Turkey.

Samer Shaban, 40, decided to leave the UAE to Turkey with his family and children, who all study in Turkish schools with hopes of immigrating to Europe.

Abdullah Shaban said that his nephew is innocent, and he appealed to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, international organizations, and human rights organizations to protect Samer Shaban, especially after the news about Zaki Mubarak’s death.

Samer Shaban was detained, along with Mubarak, by Turkish authorities and was reportedly charged with spying on behalf of the UAE. Zaki Mubarak died in Turkish custody on Monday, and Turkish authorities called his death a suicide, Mubarak’s family are skeptical of the suicide scenario and called for an investigation on the matter. Turkish authorities are yet to release the body or provide any evidence that would point to a suicide.

Samer Shaban’s father fought with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He lived with his father in the Sabra refugee camp, during the invasion of Beirut, and then immigrated to Damascus and then to Yemen, where his father fought with Palestinian groups in the Yemeni civil war. After the war ended they moved back to Damascus and then to Palestine where they settled in 1994.

His family were mistakenly informed of the death of their son in prison by an official body of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah. After four excruciating hours, “the news was denied and authorities apologized for the mistake saying that the deceased was his fellow detainee, Zaki Mubarak.”

Zaki’s daughter called for the camera footage from his cell in the prison where he was held to be released, adding that the information about him being an agent of the UAE was fabricated.

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