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Gulf News reporter on flotilla to be deported

Source: PTI
June 01, 2010 14:29 IST
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Abbas al Lawati, a Gulf News reporter, travelling with the humanitarian flotilla that came under an Israeli raid will be deported, the paper said, a day after he was reported missing. Abbas briefly established contact from Israel to convey that he is fine after his family had anxious moments following the attack that killed over 15 people.

"I'm fine. Tell my parents I'm okay. There are 16 dead, 15 injured," Abbas told his brother Mohammad over the phone.

According to the newspaper, he could not give out any other detail as the line got cut soon after. He was reported missing by the newspaper earlier yesterday after no contact could be established with him since Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza.

Lawati was onboard the Flotilla and has been writing blogs till the early hours yesterday. One of the last messages received from him read: "Possibly my last post". Lawati then wrote his final blog from the ship with a title: "Pandemonium hits Freedom Flotilla". "Three Israeli warships are heading towards the flotilla. Emergency teams are distributing life jackets.

Some are seen wearing gas masks. Sirens heard as the warships approach," he wrote. Then there was no word from him.
Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of Gulf News said Lawati was in touch with the newspaper editorial team until late on Sunday evening and the last message received from him was at midnight UAE time.

He established contact with his editor today, telling him that he was under detention but "very well" and would be "deported to Amman via the land route through the King Hussain bridge along several Jordanian activists." He expects to be back in Dubai in the next 48 hours.

"What the Israelis did is a flagrant state-sponsored terrorist attack on civilians who were trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza," Abdul Hamid said.

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