Escaped Palestinian prisoner in Bulgaria faces extradition

Escaped Palestinian prisoner in Bulgaria faces extradition
A former escaped Palestinian prisoner who has been living in Bulgaria for more than ten years is in danger of being extradited to Israel.
2 min read
19 December, 2015
Nayaf is at risk of imprisonment in Israel [PScampaign]
Omar Zayed Naif, a Palestinian with Bulgarian residency, is at risk of being extradited to Israel where he would almost certainly be imprisoned.

On Tuesday the Israeli embassy sent a letter to the Bulgarian ministry of justice demanding the extradition of Omar Zayed Nayef, and labelling him a 'fugitive from justice'.

According to a report issued by the Prisoners Affairs Authority, the Israeli claim was based on an agreement between Bulgaria and Israel to hand over so-called 'criminals'.

Bulgarian authorities have given Naif 72 hours to turn himself in.

Omar's home was raided on 17 December. He was not home but his son was arrested for a day.

Sources tell al-Araby al-Jadeed Naif refuses to hand himself over to authorities as he faces a prison sentence in Israel that does not expire until 2020.

Naif was arrested in 1986 in Jerusalem and given a life sentence. After four years in prison he went on hunger strike.

After he had refused food for forty days he was transferred to hospital in Bethlehem where he escaped.

Omar would have been freed in 1993 under the Oslo accords, which stipulated the release of Palestinian political prisoners held at the time.

The former prisoner lived as a vagrant in various parts of the Arab wolrld until 1994 when he went to Bulgaria. 

He settled in the country, married and has three children – all with Bulgarian nationality. Reportedly, he is a well-known figure in the Palestinian community in Sofia where he owns a grocery shop.

Abdel Nasser Ferwant, a prisoner rights activist, told al-Araby al-Jadeed the incident has worrying connotations for other Palestinians living in Europe who are wanted by Israel.

Ferwwana has urged the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria to refuse to hand over Naif so as not to set a precedence in other cases.

The leftist Palestinian group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement urging the Palestinian Authority to protect Naif, who they described as a 'freedom fighter'.