Did President Ordain Arrest of Israeli Over Hunter Biden Investigation?

Professor Gal Luft is detained trying to board a routine flight to Tel Aviv from Cyprus.

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Biden and Hunter Biden at Johns Island, South Carolina, August 13, 2022. AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Usually when Israelis travel to Cyprus from Israel it is for short vacations or business and with the expectation that they will be able to make the hop back to Tel Aviv — about a 40-minute flight — without a hitch. That, though, was not the case last week when Gal Luft, a professor and former Israeli lieutenant colonel, was arrested at Larnaca International Airport as he was preparing to board a return flight to Israel. 

Mr. Luft was arraigned last Friday on charges of illegal arms trafficking but swiftly cast the claim as retaliation by President Biden for his cooperating with an investigation pertaining to his son, the artist Hunter Biden. It is probably outlandish to think that the impetus for the arrest of a fairly innocuous-looking Israeli citizen could have come from a vengeful White House — or is it?

The case, which was first reported by the Israeli news website Ynet and has since rippled across Greek and Cypriot press outlets, is by turns mysterious and portentous, particularly in light of the growing congressional scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s questionable business dealings with both Communist China and Ukraine.

In the first part of a tweet, the 56-year-old Mr. Luft stated, “I’ve been arrested in Cyprus on a politically motivated  extradition request by the US,” adding, “I’ve never been an arms dealer.” In the second part he wrote that “the Department of Justice is trying to bury me to protect Joe, Jim, and Hunter Biden. Shall I name names?”

It is possible that he already has. Ynet reported that Mr. Luft’s attorney, Mordechai Tzivin, claimed that his client’s arrest “was politically motivated and an attempt to silence him for providing incriminating information in a corruption case allegedly involving Biden’s son, Hunter.” Mr. Tzivin said that “the arrest came four years after Luft cooperated with FBI and Department of Justice investigators to help them with information about the case.” He added that the meeting took place in 2019. 

Hunter Biden announced in December 2020 that he was under federal investigation for alleged tax crimes. Jim Biden is the president’s brother. Yet who is Mr. Luft, and how did he get so tangled up in an international web of intrigue that risks throwing Washington, Jerusalem, and Nicosia into an awkward triangle? 

Neither Mr. Tzivin nor the Israeli embassy at Nicosia have yet responded to requests for comment. However, Israeli press reports describe Mr. Luft as a defense and energy expert and co-director of the Washington-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. He has penned opinion pieces for the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and appeared as a commentator on CNBC, where he spoke about the phenomenon of “de-dollarization” that has arguably accelerated under the Biden administration. 

The Jerusalem Post reported that “in a 2021 Beijing summit titled ‘International Forum on Democracy: the Shared Human Values,’ Luft accused the Biden administration’s ‘commitment to democracy going only as far as its interests allow.’” 

The Interpol Red Notice issued at the request of the United States claimed that Mr. Luft was wanted in relation to illegally selling arms to Libya and Communist China and fraud for offenses that allegedly occurred from 2015 onward, the Jerusalem Post reported. That is curious, as neither of those nations is at a loss for weaponry. Plus, this comes at a time when Beijing appears to have no qualms about  selling arms to Russia.

There are high stakes at play. Mr. Tzivin told Ynet that Mr. Luft’s testimony could “bury Hunter Biden, that’s why they’re trying to bury him first.” He added that any such testimony “will be very devastating” and will “divert attention to [President Biden] himself.” The lawyer also said that it’s “not unreasonable to think that the Democrats or some of their peers would like him gone.” He maintained that his client is “in great danger.”

What exactly Mr. Tzivin meant by that was not immediately clear. Ynet reported that Mr. Luft has been remanded in custody until another hearing on his extradition to America. 

Regardless of whether those extradition hearings proceed, it is now more likely than not that the case will cross the radar of the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who has made clear his intentions to pursue issues of alleged corruption related to a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden. The likelihood of that will only grow if Mr. Luft, whether from shores Cypriot or American, decides to make good on his taunt to “name names.”


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