Freedom Flotilla activists deported from Israel, to arrive in Canada today

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Kevin Neish and Robert Lovelace, the two Canadian activists detained in Israel, are flying home today.

Neish and Lovelace were aboard the Marianne av Goteborg of Freedom Flotilla III when Israeli authorities seized it illegally in international waters around 2:00 a.m. Monday.

The pair is scheduled to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto at 6:55 p.m. today.

"I'm happy they're coming home now," said David Heap, the Canadian spokesperson for Freedom Flotilla III. 

Heap heard of their return home via the Israeli human rights law firm the flotilla employed to help the detained activists.

"They told us last night that [Neish and Lovelace] were scheduled to fly today and they confirmed this morning that they were on the flight [to Toronto]," said Heap.

Neish and Lovelace, as well as Norwegian shipmate Herman Recksten, were transferred from Givon prison in Israel to immigration detention at Ben Gurion airport last night before flying out this morning.

"They're still technically in custody of Israeli authorities until they arrive in Toronto," said Heap. 

He said Neish and Lovelace do not have access to phones or, likely, their own travel documents.

"From my own experience, El Al flight staff will probably escort them to Canadian immigration and hand over the documents there. That's when they'll technically be free," he said. 

According to a press release from Ship to Gaza, seven people remain in custody. Journalists Nadya Kevorkova and Kajsa Ekis Ekman remain separated from the Marianne's crew.

Gabi Lasky, a lawyer that the press release says is working with the detainees, claims the activists want to be deported as a group for "security and well-being."

"Seventy-two hours is a long time to be in prison, but it's much less time than the Swedish prisoners [will have to serve]," said Heap. "Of course, all of this is much, much less than the time that hundreds of Palestinians spend in different kinds of Israeli prisons."

Still detained are Swedish crew members Charlie Andreason, Gustav Bergström, Jonas Kårlin and captain Joel Opperdoes. Swedish musician and activist Dror Feiler is also still detaine as well as Swedish journalist Kajsa Ekis Ekman and Russian journalist Nadya Kevorkova.

Megan Devlin is rabble’s news intern for 2015. She hails from Toronto, but she’s starting her Masters in Journalism in Vancouver. She got her start in journalism working at the Western Gazette where she was a news editor for volume 107 and online associate editor for volume 108.

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