Israel extends remand of teenager accused of JCC bomb threats
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Israel extends remand of teenager accused of JCC bomb threats

Court rejects parents' request to replace lawyer with public defender in spat over psychiatric evaluation

An Israeli-American Jewish teenager, accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, in a courtroom in Rishon Lezion on March 23, 2017. (Flash90)
An Israeli-American Jewish teenager, accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, in a courtroom in Rishon Lezion on March 23, 2017. (Flash90)

An Israeli court on Thursday extended the remand of an Israeli-American teenager accused of making dozens of bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, police said.

The 19-year-old’s remand was extended until April 24 at a court appearance in the city of Rishon Lezion, police said.

During the hearing, the teenager’s parents asked the court to replace their son’s attorney with a public defender, but the defendant insisted that his current lawyer, Shira Nir, remain on the case, Channel 10 reported. The court ruled that Nir should remain the suspect’s counsel.

“After I saw documents related to the suspect’s past, I decided to ask his parents to bring a private psychiatrist to the prison, in order to help clarify that he is not fit for detention,” Nir told Channel 10.

She maintained the suspect’s father refused to pay for a private psychiatrist and subsequently asked the court to replace her with a public defender.

The lawyer of the young Israeli hacker, suspected of sending bomb threats to Jewish facilities across the world, shows the court an image of a tumor in her client's brain, at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on March 30, 2017. (Flash90)
The lawyer of the young Israeli hacker suspected of sending bomb threats to Jewish facilities across the world shows the court an image of a tumor in her client’s brain, at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, on March 30, 2017. (Flash90)

“I will not abandon the suspect when he trusts me so much and I will do everything in my power to get him out of detention,” she added.

The teenager was arrested on March 23 following an investigation that included the FBI.

His identity has remained under a gag order in Israel, though authorities have confirmed he was arrested in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

A wave of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions since the start of the year helped spread fears over whether hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts have been on the increase in the United States.

Some have said that the rise of Donald Trump as US president has encouraged the extreme right and emboldened hate groups.

The arrest of a Jewish teenager over dozens of the threats has complicated the debate, however.

Police say he is behind a range of threats against Jewish community centers and other buildings linked to Jewish communities in the United States in recent months.

The teenager is also suspected of being behind similar threats in New Zealand and Australia.

In addition, police say he is suspected of a bomb threat to Delta Airlines in February 2015 that led to an emergency landing.

His lawyer has said that he has a brain tumor and suffers from autism.

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