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Terror suspect´s arrest is mistake, say Belfast man´s family (GUARDIAN UK) Rosie Cowan, Ireland correspondent 07/15/03) Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,998455,00.html
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Friends and family of a Belfast man arrested by Israeli security forces on suspicion of being a republican terrorist last night claimed he is the victim of mistaken identity.
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Officers from the Shin Bet security agency, allegedly acting on UK intelligence information, seized John Morgan, a single man in his 40s, as he drove to Ramallah in the occupied territories on Saturday night.
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They were looking for an expert bomb maker, who defected some years ago from the Provisional IRA to the hardline Real IRA - the organisation that bombed Omagh in 1998 - fearing he was passing on his technical skills to Palestinian militants.
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Yesterday it seemed increasingly likely that the wrong man had been arrested. Northern Irish security sources said they were not aware the man detained had any involvement in terrorism at home, and two west Belfast-based newspapers said he was filing reports from the West Bank to them and an Irish language radio station.
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Mr Morgan´s parents, Teresa and John, were adamant that their son was in the West Bank setting up a schools exchange programme.
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"That´s not my son, that´s a different person they´re talking about," said Mr Morgan senior, who is recovering from a quadruple heart bypass. "He is a governor of five schools. My son is not involved in anything like that [terrorism], absolutely not."
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They first heard of his arrest yesterday through a local worker for a Palestinian support group, and last night still had not had official confirmation from the British or Irish authorities. Mr Morgan, who has a British passport, went to Israel three weeks ago.
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Cathleen O´Connell, from the Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), said Mr Morgan was setting up a schools exchange scheme on behalf of the organisation.
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"Mr Morgan is a peace activist. Amongst his roles is to establish links with local schools in order to further a twinning programme initiated by the IPSC in Belfast this year," she said. "He has also been staying with a family of a group of Palestinian teenagers who were guests at last year´s west Belfast festival.
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His arrest is a blatant attempt to discredit and malign any sort of solidarity work with Palestine that is essentially about making positive change and aiding conflict resolution."
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Ciaran O Pronntaigh, editor of the west Belfast-based daily Irish language paper, LŠ, said he had known Mr Morgan for six years and was convinced the allegations against him were false. "Sean O Muireagain [the Irish spelling of John Morgan] is a well-known Irish language and Palestinian Solidarity Committee activist in Belfast and was reporting from Jenin for LŠ and Raidio na Gaeltachta," said Mr O Pronntaigh.
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The Israeli government was refusing to comment "for security reasons". (Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003 07/15/03)
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