Men on death row for ‘Israel emails’

A man has been sentenced to death in Yemen having been accused of forging links with Israel.

Bassam al-Haidari, 26, was condemned after allegedly writing to Ehud Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister, offering to work as an agent for Mossad. Two other men were also convicted this week.

Israel denied any having had contact with the three men.

Ali Abdullah al-Mahfal, 24, was jailed for five years and Emad Ali al-Raimi, 23, was sentenced to a three-year term.

“The court sentences the first defendant to death in the case of making illegal contact with the Zionist Jewish Israeli entity,” said judge Mohsen Elwan.

The prosecution charged al-Haidari with corresponding with Mr Olmert through emails, one of which purportedly said: “We are the Organisation of Islamic Jihad and you are Jews, but you are honest, and we are ready to do anything.”

The three men, who denied the charges, said they would appeal against the ruling.

Mark Regev, Mr Olmert’s spokesman, said the charges were “completely far-fetched”.“We have no knowledge of any contact with this person,” he said.

“Every day we receive numerous messages from the Arab and Muslim world and we hail those wanting dialogue with Israel.”

The same men had been accused in January of claiming responsibilty for an attack on the US Embassy last September that killed 16 people. The twin suicide bombings of the embassy, later claimed by al-Qaeda in Yemen, were the biggest militant operation in the country since the attacks on the French tanker Limburg in 2002 and the US warship USS Cole in 2000.

    Last updated: 11:43am, March 26 2009