Ransom Effort for Israeli-Canadian Suspended

YERUSHALAYIM -

A campaign to ransom an Israeli-Canadian from prison in an unnamed Arab country has reportedly fallen through for the time being, and the $120,000 raised put in escrow, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday.

Ben Hassin, 21, who has dual citizenship, has been under arrest since June 2015 for the alleged murder of a taxi driver. Hassin’s parents say he told them that he acted in self-defense.

The rescue organization Zaka, which raised the money that was intended to be paid to the family of the taxi driver to secure Hassin’s release, said that it could not ascertain a designated recipient for the payment, nor even verify that a deal has actually been agreed to.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Zaka said the money has been held in escrow for the last two weeks “until the Zaka attorneys are satisfied that the money will be transferred through legal channels and reach its intended target. This due diligence is essential for an organization that insists on financial transparency.”

Zaka Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said the money would be returned to the donors if no proper channel can be found to deliver it.

Aside from the ransom attempt, Zaka said it continues to work with “reputable bodies” in the country where Hassin is being held “to try and free Ben Hassin or ensure a lighter sentence.” He could be sentenced to death or 25 years in prison.

Meanwhile, it was reported on the basis of a personal visit that Hassin is “in good health.”

Hassin’s father, Ilan, said his son went to visit his grandparents, and while there decided to enlist in the fight against ISIS with a local militia. The cab driver overheard Hassin speaking Hebrew on his cellphone during a ride and threatened to kill him for being Jewish and Israeli.