Panamanian authorities on Thursday evening detained President of the Brazil-Palestine Institute (IBRASPAL) Ahmed Shehada at Tocumen International Airport and withdrew his Brazilian passport, Quds Press reported.
Shehada was travelling to Columbia to participate in the second conference for the Palestinian Union in Latin America, taking place between 17 and 19 March in Barranquilla.
Brasil 247 reported that Shehada was questioned by Panamanian intelligence, who failed to confiscate his mobile phone.
According to Brasil 247, ministers from the government of Brazilian President Lula da Silva asked the Foreign Ministry to contact the Brazilian Embassy in Panama to obtain support for Shehada, who is a Brazilian citizen.
Following these contacts, Panama decided to deport Shehada back to Brazil.
Vice President of IBRASPAL Sayid Marcos Tenório stated his view that: “The state of Panama is under American occupation. American and Israeli intelligence are targeting anyone working against imperialist Zionist policies.”
Tenório added: “Targeting Shehada by this state is an absurd measure that violates his rights as a Brazilian citizen of Palestinian origin.”
He stressed that Brazilian authorities should summon the Panamanian ambassador to ask for clarification over the detention of a Brazilian citizen.
In a statement, the Panamanian Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People condemned Shehada’s detention. Many other Brazilian groups and organisations conveyed solidarity with Shehada.