A Warsaw court has upheld the decision to extradite an alleged Mossad agent from Poland to Germany. The alleged agent is suspected of helping a hit squad in the assassination of a Hamas leader.
The alleged agent is a suspect in the killing of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
A Warsaw appeals court upheld Thursday the extradition of an alleged Mossad agent to Germany, where he is suspected of assisting in the killing of a leader of the Palestinian militant movement Hamas in Dubai last January.
The decision means the alleged agent, Uri Brodsky, must be handed over to the German authorities within 10 days, where he will face forgery charges.
Germany applied for Brodsky's extradition following his arrest at Warsaw airport in June on a European warrant charging him with espionage and helping to falsely obtain a German passport.
Brodsky is suspected of acting as an agent for a foreign intelligence service and helping to forge the German passport believed to have been used by one of the attackers in the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. He faces up to three years in jail if convicted.
The hit squad was found to have used 26 doctored foreign passports, not only from Germany but from other Western countries like Australia, Britain, France and Ireland. It is widely believed that the Israeli secret service Mossad was behind the operation.
A case of mistaken identity?
Thursday's decision upheld a July ruling that Brodsky, an Israeli citizen, should be extradited to Germany on forgery charges but not for espionage, as spying against Germany is not a punishable crime in Poland.
Brodsky's lawyer said he appealed the earlier court decision because extradition is not allowed under Polish law when the alleged offenses have a political motive.
Since his arrest, Brodsky has maintained he was innocent, that he was just a businessman with no connections to the Israeli secret service and a victim of a case of mistaken identity.
Polish media have reported that Israel put pressure on Warsaw to prevent Brodsky's extradition, a claim Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski denied.
Tusk said EU law left the Polish court with little choice
"I have absolutely no information about any diplomatic intervention by Israel in this case," he said, refusing to answer any further questions.
A 'delicate' issue: Tusk
Israel has spoken out against the extradition, saying the suspect should be dealt with by the Israeli justice system.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the issue was "delicate," considering the history between Poland, Israel and Germany.
Tusk said despite close ties with both Germany and Israel, European law left the court with little choice but to extradite Brodsky. He said he hoped the matter would not harm Polish-Israeli relations.
In the past 20 years, the Polish government has worked to improve its relationships with Israel and the Jewish diaspora by acting as one of the main advocates for Israel with the European Union and the United Nations. Israel has also invested considerably in Poland in recent years, something the government doesn't want to put at risk.
"Poland has been something of Israel’s ambassador in the EU," said Polish journalist Konstanty Gebert, of the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. "The fact is that Poland seems to understand Israel's quandary better than members of the old EU, and actually takes quite a bit of flak for doing that."
Gebert believes that despite the decision, Israel is unlikely to hold a long-term grudge against such a trusted ally.
Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP/AP/dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton