Lebanese military court finds Canadian innocent of collaborating with Israel
Canadian Press
Monday, September 01, 2003
BEIRUT (CP) - A Canadian man arrested in Lebanon and accused of collaborating with Israel was found innocent Monday and was expected to be released, while his family accused Ottawa bureaucrats, claiming they failed to publicly denounce the arrest.
A Lebanese military court ruled that Bruce Balfour, 52, a Christian missionary from Calgary, was not guilty of collaborating with Israel, a charge punishable by 15 years jail. Balfour had arrived in Lebanon on a British Airways flight from Los Angeles on July 10.
He is believed to have been in the Middle East directing an evangelical project to help replant the biblical cedar forests in northern Lebanon. Balfour was arrested on a military court order accusing him of visiting Israel and collaborating with the enemy. He had pleaded innocent. His family said Monday that while Canadian diplomats in Beirut worked hard for his release, federal authorities in Ottawa had let him down. "The Canadian government basically did nothing," Laura Mackenzie, Balfour's sister, told The Canadian Press in an interview from her home in Clearwater, B.C. "There are many other people like my brother out there. I feel sorry if they don't have families helping them, because then they're alone," she said.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre met earlier Monday with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and said Canada respected Lebanon's judicial system. Coderre said he also met with Balfour at the suburban Roumieh prison, east of Beirut, and that Balfour appeared to be in good health. An official from the Cedars of Lebanon project also said he believed the Canadian government had stepped up efforts in recent days to secure Balfour's release.

Speaking about Blafour's treatment in prison, John Bleile said, "To my knowledge (torture) did not happen . . . but just being in a prison system, which is probably inferior to our own, is torture enough." Balfour's lawyer, Ibrahim Hariri, argued his client had visited Israel on a religious mission. Lebanon is technically at war with Israel and bars any traveller carrying a passport with an Israeli stamp. It is rare, however, for such travellers to be arrested. At a court appearance last week, Balfour said he was not a spy and that he served God and Jesus.

Rev. John Lucas, Canadian president of the Cedars of Lebanon project, was pleased with the verdict "Thanks be to God. I feel relieved. We've been exchanging e-mails and waiting patiently for this. We were very concerned. We never understood why he was arrested in the first place," he said. The tribunal also accused Balfour of inciting sectarian sentiments, but said the time he spent in prison was sufficient punishment and ordered his release as soon as Tuesday. His deportation was expected soon after. Last month, Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum said he received information that Balfour had travelled between Lebanon and Israel in a way that aroused suspicion. A warrant was issued April 2 for his arrest.

Another Canadian citizen, Grant Livingstone, who stood trial in absentia on the same charge, was also found innocent. This is the second time in recent months that the Department of Foreign Affairs has come under fire for its handling of cases involving Canadian citizens arrested abroad. The family of William Sampson, who was recently released from prison in Saudi Arabia, has raised questions over the handling of his file. Foreign Minister Bill Graham suggested at the time that the issue had to be approached delicately and that protecting Sampson's life had been the government's priority. Sampson was freed last month after spending 31 months in a Saudi prison after being sentenced to execution by beheading for a car bombing he insisted he didn't commit. His family said the Canadian government failed to publicly criticize the Saudi authorities for the harsh treatment Sampson went through while in prison.

Raising similar concerns, Balfour's sister said her brother's was not an isolated case. "There are many other people like my brother out there. I feel sorry if they don't have families helping them, because then they're alone," Mackenzie said. She said she would not feel completely relieved until her brother was out of Lebanon. "He's not out of the woods yet. I'll feel a whole lot happier once (his plane is) in the air," she said. "I'll be relieved when he's free." She said she expects him back in North America on Tuesday.

Missionary Bruce Balfour cleared of charges
Last Updated Mon, 01 Sep 2003 16:57:59

BEIRUT - A Canadian missionary accused by Lebanon of spying for Israel has been acquitted by a Beirut court, and ordered out of the country. Bruce Balfour was accused by the Lebanese government of collaborating with Israel. After several delays in rendering a verdict, a five-member military tribunal unanimously cleared him on Monday.
CBC reporter Nahlah Ayed said that Balfour was, however, convicted on the lesser charge of spreading dangerous ideas, and sentenced to time served. The court ordered him deported immediately.
Balfour was arrested at the Beirut airport on July 10. His trial was held in August. Prosecutor accused him of gathering information about Lebanese military positions and about Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Palestinian militant group, and passing it to the Israelis. In his defence, Balfour said he was in Lebanon to replant a biblical grove of cedar trees. The charges of collaborating with Israel could have got Balfour a jail term of 15 years. His missionary travels have taken him to Israel several times. He says he began going to the Middle East for religious and for environmental reasons. Written by CBC News Online staff

Lebanese military court finds Canadian
innocent of collaborating with Israel
9/1/03
BEIRUT, Sep 01, 2003 (The Canadian Press via COMTEX) -- A Canadian man arrested in Lebanon and accused of collaborating with Israel was found innocent Monday and was expected to be released, while his family accused Ottawa bureaucrats, claiming they failed to publicly denounce the arrest. A Lebanese military court ruled that Bruce Balfour, 52, a Christian missionary from Calgary, was not guilty of collaborating with Israel, a charge punishable by 15 years jail. Balfour had arrived in Lebanon on a British Airways flight from Los Angeles on July 10.
He is believed to have been in the Middle East directing an evangelical project to help replant the biblical cedar forests in northern Lebanon. Balfour was arrested on a military court order accusing him of visiting Israel and collaborating with the enemy. He had pleaded innocent. His family said Monday that while Canadian diplomats in Beirut worked hard for his release, federal authorities in Ottawa had let him down.
'The Canadian government basically did nothing,'Laura Mackenzie, Balfour's sister, told The Canadian Press in an interview from her home in Clearwater, B.C. 'There are many other people like my brother out there. I feel sorry if they don't have families helping them, because then they're alone,'she said. Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre met earlier Monday with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and said Canada respected Lebanon's judicial system. Coderre said he also met with Balfour at the suburban Roumieh prison, east of Beirut, and that Balfour appeared to be in good health.
An official from the Cedars of Lebanon project also said he believed the Canadian government had stepped up efforts in recent days to secure Balfour's release. Speaking about Blafour's treatment in prison, John Bleile said, 'To my knowledge (torture) did not happen . . . but just being in a prison system, which is probably inferior to our own, is torture enough.' Balfour's lawyer, Ibrahim Hariri, argued his client had visited Israel on a religious mission.
Lebanon is technically at war with Israel and bars any traveller carrying a passport with an Israeli stamp. It is rare, however, for such travellers to be arrested. At a court appearance last week, Balfour said he was not a spy and that he served God and Jesus.
Rev. John Lucas, Canadian president of the Cedars of Lebanon project, was pleased with the verdict 'Thanks be to God. I feel relieved. We've been exchanging e-mails and waiting patiently for this. We were very concerned. We never understood why he was arrested in the first place,'he said. The tribunal also accused Balfour of inciting sectarian sentiments, but said the time he spent in prison was sufficient punishment and ordered his release as soon as Tuesday. His deportation was expected soon after.
Last month, Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum said he received information that Balfour had travelled between Lebanon and Israel in a way that aroused suspicion. A warrant was issued April 2 for his arrest.
Another Canadian citizen, Grant Livingstone, who stood trial in absentia on the same charge, was also found innocent. This is the second time in recent months that the Department of Foreign Affairs has come under fire for its handling of cases involving Canadian citizens arrested abroad. The family of William Sampson, who was recently released from prison in Saudi Arabia, has raised questions over the handling of his file. Foreign Minister Bill Graham suggested at the time that the issue had to be approached delicately and that protecting Sampson's life had been the government's priority. Sampson was freed last month after spending 31 months in a Saudi prison after being sentenced to execution by beheading for a car bombing he insisted he didn't commit.
His family said the Canadian government failed to publicly criticize the Saudi authorities for the harsh treatment Sampson went through while in prison. Raising similar concerns, Balfour's sister said her brother's was not an isolated case. 'There are many other people like my brother out there. I feel sorry if they don't have families helping them, because then they're alone,'Mackenzie said. She said she would not feel completely relieved until her brother was out of Lebanon. 'He's not out of the woods yet. I'll feel a whole lot happier once (his plane is) in the air,'she said. 'I'll be relieved when he's free.' She said she expects him back in North America on Tuesday.
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Missionary cleared of espionage charges
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 1 (UPI) --
A Canadian missionary accused by Lebanon of spying for Israel was ordered out of the country Monday following his acquittal by a Beirut court. Bruce Balfour had been charged with collaborating with Israel.
After several delays in reaching a verdict, a military tribunal voted unanimously to clear him. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Balfour was convicted on the lesser charge of spreading dangerous ideas. He was sentenced to time served and the court ordered him deported immediately. Arrested at the Beirut airport July 10, Balfour's trial was held in August. Prosecutors alleged he gathered information about Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Palestinian militant group, and about Lebanese military positions before giving the intelligence to Israel. Balfour said he was in Lebanon to replant a biblical grove of cedar trees. The charge of collaboration could have landed Balfour a prison term of 15 years.

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Israel's daily newsmagazine
September 1, 2003
Lebanese authorities arrested a Canadian minister earlier this month on charges of collaborating with Israel, Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum acknowledged Wednesday. Addoum said Bruce Balfour, 52, was arrested on July 10 at Beirut airport on a military court order issued in absentia, which accused him of the crime of visiting Israel and "collaborating with the enemy." Lebanese authorities received information that Balfour had traveled between Lebanon and Israel in a "suspicious" manner, and issued a warrant in April for his arrest.
The sources quoted by Haaretz said Saturday that the priest visited and resided in Lebanon frequently since Israel's 1982 invasion of the country, and that he and another man spied on Hezbollah and Lebanon's army while purporting to work on a reforestation project last year. Both men sought to locate military positions of Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah and the Lebanese army and pass information about them on to Israel, the sources said.
Addoum said Balfour is now being held at the suburban Roumieh prison northeast of Beirut. Canadian newspapers have reported that Balfour is a native of western Canada who was in the Middle East directing an evangelical project, Cedars of Lebanon, to help replant the biblical cedar forests in northern Lebanon.
News of his arrest only become known after Balfour managed to get a message out his cell to the Canadian Ambassador in Lebanon. In the message he wrote, "After 11 days of hell in Lebanese prisons, I am finally allowed to make contact with you. I have tried more than 100 times to make contact but nothing worked." Balfour described the circumstances of his detention. "When I arrived at the Beirut Airport on Thursday, July 10th, at about 9:30 PM on British Airways flight 6703, I was arrested because a computer entry said that I have been in Israel at one time, which is true. But please tell me where the crime in this is. My freedom has been taken away and I have been treated horribly. This is against all international law and moral code of every civilized country in the world. "I need to get out of here now. Every hour multiples the possibility of me being moved to another location and disappearing forever."
In a second message, Balfour said that he was in Roumieh Prison. "on the top floor with South Lebanese prisoners." He appealed for help from people around the world. "I desperately need your help," he said. "I pray that you will not forsake me!" He is reportedly fasting. A friend, Fred van Vliet, said Balfour was not even aware his letters were getting through. "He hasn't had any contact with anyone, and he doesn't know if anyone knows where he is. His hand lettering deteriorates through the letter. It starts off pretty good, but at the end of the letter it's very scrawly," said Vliet. The Canadian government has reportedly demanded that the Lebanese government explained why it was not informed earlier of his arrest.
Balfour's mission is explained on his website: "Since the original Cedar of Lebanon forest began to be cut-down and used for wealth-building more than 4,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Assyrians, etc., up to the British in the 20th century, few have planted new seedlings on he mountains of Lebanon," he said. "We are working toward planting forests of seedling back on the original slopes where they were first harvested by armies of people over the Millennia including Israelites; for King David's, the temple in Jerusalem, Solomon's house as, "The House of the Forest of Cedars of Lebanon," which took 13 years to build, and many other structures in the Bible lands.
Before his arrest, Balfour made no secret of his plans to go back to Lebanese soil. "I will be returning to Lebanon on July 9th from here in Southern California to film and produce a documentary on Lebanon, its Biblical importance of the Cedars of Lebanon and our project. This documentary should be available for showing by the end of August 2003."
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02, 2003 Elul 5, 5763 Israel Time: 07:56  (GMT+3)
Lebanon court clears Canadian of collaborating with Israel
By The Associated Press
BEIRUT - A Lebanese military court ruled Monday that a Canadian Christian missionary was not guilty of collaborating with Israel, a charge punishable by 15 years jail. Bruce Balfour, 52, had pleaded innocent after being arrested July 10 at Beirut airport on a military court order accusing him of visiting Israel and collaborating with the enemy. The five-man tribunal also accused Balfour of inciting sectarian sentiments, but said the time he spent in prison was sufficient punishment and ordered his release as soon as Tuesday. Balfour is expected to be deported soon after. Lebanon is technically at war with Israel and bars any traveler carrying a passport with an Israeli stamp. It is rare, however, for such travelers to be arrested.
Few other details on Monday's tribunal decision were available. At a court appearance last week, Balfour said he was not a spy and that he served God and Jesus. In Toronto, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said he was glad Balfour was returning to Canada. "I am satisfied that due process has acquitted Mr. Balfour of these most serious charges and am pleased that he will be returning home to Canada," Graham said. Balfour's lawyer, Ibrahim Hariri, argued his client had visited Israel on a religious mission. Last month, Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum said he received information that Balfour had traveled between Lebanon and Israel
in a way that aroused suspicion. A warrant was issued April 2 for his arrest.
Canadian newspapers have said Balfour hails from Calgary and was in the Middle East directing an evangelical project to help replant the biblical cedar forests in northern Lebanon. Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre met earlier Monday with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and said Canada respected Lebanon's judicial system. Coderre said he also met with Balfour at the suburban Roumieh prison, east of Beirut, who appeared to be in good health.
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