Palestine Center Asks State Department to Intervene On Behalf of Andrew Clarno

14 August 2001
Contact: Heidi Shoup

Palestine Center Asks State Department to Intervene On Behalf of Andrew Clarno

Washington, DC – Andrew Clarno, who was an intern at the Center during the summer of 1994, was detained on 11 August by Israeli police for taking part in a peaceful gathering in Jerusalem. Israeli police rushed Clarno and other participants and, according to eyewitnesses and press footage, used clubs and fists to apprehend Clarno and others he was with, including bystanders.

Clarno was released on bail on 13 August at 1 p.m. EST. According to Clarno’s Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, he will be brought to trial within 48 hours of that release. He could be charged for illegally demonstrating and allegedly attacking a police officer.

Palestine Center Executive Director Heidi Shoup wrote a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell today advocating for Clarno’s rights. “We very strongly urge you to instruct our consulate in East Jerusalem to intercede on Andy’s behalf and to provide him any and all assistance in responding to the false charges against him,” she wrote. “In these volatile and violent times, we must be concerned for Andy’s safety and well-being.” Earlier in the day, Shoup had contacted the Office of Overseas Citizen’s Services on Clarno’s behalf and received a “luke-warm response.”

Clarno, a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Michigan, is a recipient of a Fulbright grant to conduct research in the Middle East. Clarno’s professors at the University of Texas, where he completed his undergraduate studies, and at the University of Michigan were shocked at the unsubstantiated accusations of him attacking a police officer. “Above all, Andrew is a nonviolent person, committed to understanding the problem and seeking a peaceful solution,” said Associate Professor George Steinmetz, his advisor.

Claire Decoteau, Clarno’s fiancee and a fellow graduate student, spoke to him upon his release and he said that he had bruises on his neck and arms. Photos published by the Associated Press show at least two Israeli policemen tackling Clarno, one holding him in a chokehold.

In a message today, Clarno wrote: “The violence used against me is nothing compared to the violence that is directed toward Palestinians on a daily basis. The only reason it caught the world’s attention is that I am an American.” Resistance to this injustice is not just about me and my release, it has to be about the larger situation that we are attempting to struggle against. This is where nonviolence becomes powerful.”

For more information or for interviews, contact Andrew Clarno at 011-972-506-12862 or his father James Clarno at 512-388-3871.