< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Friday, August 01, 2003

Canadian minister arrested in Lebanon for crime of visiting Israel

Rev. Bruce Balfour was in Lebanon to plant trees
[Lebanese Prosecutor, General Adnan] 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."
Foreigners who have visited Israel and have Israeli stamps in their passports are not allowed to enter Lebanon, which is technically still at war with the Jewish state; exceptions are made for politicians, diplomats and foreign journalists. According to the Edmonton CBC, Balfour will be charged with collaborating with Israel in a Lebanese military court on August 11.