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FRANCE - ISRAEL - PALESTINE

French anti-terror police raid Jewish peace activist after hacker's prank call

A banned Gaza solidarity demonstration at Paris's Place de la République in 2014
A banned Gaza solidarity demonstration at Paris's Place de la République in 2014 Reuters/Benoit Tessier

A French Jewish peace activist was arrested in a raid by armed anti-terror police on Monday night after a prank call telling them he had killed his wife. The authorities say the hoax resembled previous activity by Israel-based hacker Ulcan, who denies responsibility.

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Armed police from the Raid anti-terror unit arrived at the home of 65-year-old Pierre Stambul in the southern French city of Marseille at 3.50 on Tuesday morning.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

They broke down the door and pinned him to the ground after hitting him in the jaw, despite the fact that he had voluntarily identified himself, he told the Mediapart website.

The police had received a call saying that he had killed his wife and was armed and ready to fire at anyone who approached him.

"I was in handcuffs for more than an hour, despite the fact that the woman I was supposed to have killed was two metres away from me," Stambul said.

He was then taken to a police station and held for several hours on suspicion of having made the call himself.

Stambul, the son of a member of the French resistance, is a national committee member of the French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP).

He believes that he has been the victim of self-styled "Zionist hacker" Grégory Chelli, who goes by the name of Ulcan.

"On Monday at 23h00 I received a call on my landline, which is in the phone book," he told Mediapart. "I picked up and the person rang off. That's how the hacker Ulcan pirated my line."

Chelli denies the accusation but police prefect Laurent Nunez agreed on Tuesday that the method was typical of his way of working and has suggested that Stambul take legal action.

The activist has already announced his intention of suing the police, pointing out that there have already been three similar cases, including one against another UJFP activist.

Nunez says he has apologised to the UJFP but describes the hoax as "very well executed" with the hacker replying to a callback by police, a procedure instituted after Chelli manipulated police to harass a journalist, his editor and his family with serious consequences.

Stambul believes the latest pranks are linked to Israeli reactions to the BDS boycott and divestment campaign against Jewish settlements in the Palestinian Territories. 

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