The lawyer of an Israeli man held in Greece for alleged drug trafficking expressed confidence Wednesday that his client would soon be released after filing additional documents to show the arrest was due to mistaken identity.
Dudi Ashkenazi, 52, is in custody on the Greek island of Kos after being arrested on an Interpol warrant while vacationing earlier this month. The warrant is for a dual Israeli-Azerbaijani citizen named Dudi Ashkenazi who allegedly trafficked drugs between Peru and Russia in 2012.
Ashkenazi, his family and the Israeli government maintain that he did not commit the crimes. He has said that he was celebrating his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah at the time and was not in Peru, Channel 12 news reported. His wife has said he does not hold Azerbaijani citizenship.
According to Channel 12, Israeli police told Interpol they believe Greece has arrested the wrong man after discovering that the warrant contains the identification number of another individual with the same name.
“This is not the man the Peru is searching for,” Ashkenazi’s lawyer, Nir Yaslovitzh, told the Ynet news site. “The entire warrant is a mistaken identity.”
At a hearing Monday in Rhodes, Greek prosecutors did not explicitly reject Ashkenazi’s claim but said they wanted to investigate further, Ynet said. Yaslovitzh demanded his client’s immediate release.
Also Monday, the Foreign Ministry contacted the Greek foreign ministry after the photo attached to the warrant was released, saying his arrest was likely a result of misidentification. Yaslovitzh reportedly sent Greek officials an additional corroborative letter from the Foreign Ministry incorporating updated information from Israeli authorities and Interpol.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias on Wednesday and petitioned for Ashkenazi’s immediate release.
“The Foreign Ministry continues to be in touch with the family and officials in Greece and is making every effort to end the affair and bring Ashkenazi home,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ashkenazi’s family has also launched a fundraising campaign to cover the legal expenses for securing his release and return to Israel.
“I want to thank all those involved in this many sacred work to prove my innocence and get me back to my country,” Ashkenazi wrote in a letter from Kos on Wednesday.