Friday, June 25, 2010

Ruddock denies [Israeli] diplomat's expulsion linked to daughter

Ruddock denies [Israeli] diplomat's expulsion linked to daughter

Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock says any relationship his daughter had with an Israeli diplomat is not relevant to the man's expulsion from Australia.

A report in this week's Australian Jewish News says the former diplomat, Amir Laty, told Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem that he had been in "close contact" with Caitlin Ruddock.

The report also says that Amir Laty believes his friendship with 26-year-old Ms Ruddock may have been linked to the Australian Government ordering him to leave the country.

Mr Laty's expulsion has not been explained by the Federal Government.

The report said Mr Laty had been invited to Christmas lunch at the Ruddock's Sydney home, but the invitation was subsequently cancelled.

RuddockMr Ruddock has told Southern Cross radio the Government will not comment on the expulsion.

"I don't believe that is appropriate to look at whether or not my daughter had had relationships with anybody," he said.

"Certainly any acquaintance she may or may not have had with this particular gentleman was totally irrelevant to his departure from Australia."

Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says he has been briefed by ASIO but cannot discuss the matter.

"These are sensitive matters and the Opposition is privileged to obtain national security briefings from ASIO," he said.

"I'm not to be in a position of breaching the undertakings we've given to ASIO."

Mr Laty, who was posted to Canberra for 18 months, went to New Zealand last year to visit two Israelis who were jailed there on charges of fraudulently obtaining passports.

The two, who were expelled from New Zealand for allegedly being agents of Israel's spy agency Mossad, also spent time in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Australian Jewish News also reports that Australian Jewish leaders have opposed the Israel's Foreign Ministry replacement for Amir Laty.

They rejected Aryeh Scher's appointment because of alleged involvement in a child-sex scandal in Brazil five years ago.

The website reports that the Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom this week agreed to review the appointment.

Mr Scher, a former Israeli vice-consul at the Israeli Embassy in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, was reportedly cleared by an Israeli government committee of any criminal behaviour but was censured for "inappropriate behaviour" and barred from going abroad for five years.