TEL AVIV – The Shin Bet security agency on Wednesday flatly denied a claim made by American-Iranian author and former CNN host Reza Aslan, who said he was detained and threatened by security agents at a border crossing and told he might not see his children for a long time.
The Shin Bet said that Aslan, a critic of Israel, was held by authorities for a “brief interrogation” when he entered Israel from Jordan with his family earlier this month after “suspicions were aroused” due to their behavior.
“The allegations that threats were made against Mr. Aslan, and that questions of a political nature were asked during the conversation, have been thoroughly examined at your request, and were found to be unfounded and have no basis in reality,” the statement said.
The Shin Bet also said its security procedures have “prevented terrorist and espionage activity in Israel” this year.
Aslan, a well-known scholar and author of several books and articles about religion, is a frequent critic of Israeli policies.
(THREAD) Peter’s experience has spurred me to share mine.
2 weeks ago, as I was crossing back into Israel from Jordan, I was separated from my family and detained by Shin Bet. “We can make it so you don’t see your kids for a long time” I was warned.
This is what happened next https://t.co/syxVj23BNx
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) August 14, 2018
The remarks follow a spate of similar claims by left-wing Americans that were held at the border over the past few weeks, including former Bernie Sanders staffer and activist Simone Zimmerman and prominent Jewish-American political commentator and writer Peter Beinart.
Reza said his interrogation at the Israel-Jordan border from two weeks ago reminded him of “police states.”
“We can make it so you don’t see your kids for a long time,” Aslan quoted a female Shin Bet interrogator as saying.
Aslan said he was asked why he hated Israel and told he “hate[s] our prime minister.”
Aslan insisted he was “against the occupation not Israel.”
Aslan claimed the interrogator warned him after several hours: “I may let you into Israel but, who knows, I may not let you out. I will keep you here and kick out your family. It depends on you. You would miss your kids yes?”
“That my friends is the classic police state trick. Iran has perfected it,” Aslan wrote.
On Wednesday, Dan Yakir, chief legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that the Shin Bet is permitted to conduct “warning conversations” but must fulfill several conditions for doing so, including written permission from the Attorney-General’s Office, summoning the individual in advance and informing them that they have the right to refuse the summons.