Cynthia McKinney file photo, July 18, 2008, New York. Getty Images
Q - You are currently in Israeli custody, on what grounds have you been detained?
A - Well that's a very interesting question, because we have violated no laws. And its interesting that the twenty-one of us, who were onboard the Spirit of Humanity had our boat commandeered, we were hijacked, we were then taken to Israel which was not our intended destination. And we became the Free Gaza 21. I became Ramleh prisoner number 88794 and I am in right now Ramleh Prison.
Q - How is the situation over there? How do you feel? Is there any sort of pressure against you? Violence whatsoever, as you can see violations?
A - Well it's clear that there is a unique justice system here in Israel. Starting with our abduction, and as some have said who were part our group 'our kidnapping', with respect to our intended destination we were taking -- I personally had collected -- crayons, coloring books, number 2 pencils, pencil shapers, water colors and paint brushes to take to the children of Gaza. And now I find my self being deported from a country I had no intention to visiting.
We were given literature legal documents that were in Hebrew, and of course I speak no Hebrew. And this all started because I wanted to do something that neither President (Barack) Obama nor his special envoy has done and that is to visit Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's Operation Cast Lead. Unfortunately Operation Cast Lead was made possible by US taxpayers' gift to the Israeli war machine, in the form of F-16s, helicopter gunships, white phosphorus, depleted uranium, cluster bombs and anything that kills, the United States seems to be willing and able to hand over to the Israelis, who are more than happy -- it seems -- to use them against Palestinian people.
Q - Are you in easy contact with your lawyer to speak to your lawyer?
A - Well now that's very interesting question as well as to the extent of communication that we've had with our lawyers. In fact while we were being detained at Bignorian airport the lawyer was inside the building trying to find us but the Israeli authorities would not give any information as to where we were or, you know were just in the same building and we had a brief interview with someone representing the Ministry of Interior, and it was at that point that I told that gentleman that we knew that the lawyers were looking for us inside the building it was after that point that we were given a very short 10-minute opportunity to speak with our lawyers, which was absolutely insufficient and now I'm learning as I sit next to Mairead Maguire Nobel Laureate from Ireland, and I sit next to Teresa McDermott from Scotland, and not everyone even got their ten minutes.
Q - What is the position of the US administration right now in regards to what is happening to you?
A - It's interesting that we have had a call from the Foreign Ministry of Ireland for the release of their nationals. There are two people from Ireland who are among our 21. We also learned just today that the king of Bahrain sent a private jet to pick up five members of our group who were from Bahrain, and they have been received extremely warmly, as you can imagine, by the people of Bahrain and of course by the king himself.
We, as of now, have not heard anything that our administration has said about our particular plight but that well said it might be is not surprising as you might recall president-elect Obama allowed the 22 or so days of Operation Cast Lead to go without even him mentioning a word.
Q - What is your message to the international community? What do you want to say about what happened to you?
A - First of all we are very thankful for the outpouring of support that we have learned has taken place all over the world, from Atlanta to New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco. We just leaned today that there was a demonstration in support of us in Haiti. We've had demonstrations all throughout Europe in support of our position so we thank the people of the world who are paying attention to what we were trying to accomplish and who have responded so supportively.
I have, on several occasions, called for the congress of the United Stated and our president to not sign into law any legislation that carries one dime or one weapon for the Israeli military. And I renew that call, in addition to the call for President Obama and his special envoy to visit Gaza. I have also called repeatedly that the president and the congress acknowledge the elected representatives of the people of Palestine, and that also carries with it the responsibility to engage Hamas.
I remember that it was one Israeli leader who said, "You can't make peace with your friends you have to engage you enemies," and if there is going to be peace in the region everyone had to be engaged.