Monday, July 4, 2011

DFAT chasing Aussie flotilla arrest report

Image: Children hold Palestinian and Greek flags as they protest in support of the Gaza-bound flotilla in the port of Gaza City
Hatem Moussa  /  AP
Palestinian children hold Palestinian and Greek flags as they protest in support of the Gaza-bound flotilla in the port of Gaza City, on Sunday. Greek authorities have arrested the captain of a boat that is part of a Gaza-bound flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, officials said Saturday.
Organizers of a Gaza-bound flotilla said Sunday they have not abandoned their plans to breach Israel's sea blockade of the territory despite a Greek government ban on their vessels leaving the country's ports.
The campaign experienced a major setback when Greece announced its restrictions Friday, and authorities arrested the captain of a boat carrying American activists that tried to leave Greece without permission.
However, coordinators of the flotilla were trying to maintain momentum with small protests in Athens in the face of increasing calls for them to scrap their campaign. On Saturday, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — urged governments to discourage Gaza-bound flotillas that could escalate tension in the region.
Several protesters from the American vessel briefly protested outside the U.S. Embassy before leaving. They had originally planned to stay there overnight. They want Washington to pressure Greece to release their American captain, John Klusmire, and allow them to depart for the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. Embassy provided standard consular services to the American citizens in the flotilla "before and after" the interception of their vessel, spokesman Stuart Smith said.
The Obama administration had warned American activists against participating in the flotilla, saying they might be violating U.S. law because Gaza is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
Greek activist Dimitris Plionis said there would be "some action" at the beginning of the week, but he did not specify what the pro-Palestinian activists were planning to do, presumably because Greek authorities might try to thwart their efforts.More...

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