Moshe Lion, who ran for mayor of Jerusalem in the recent municipal elections but lost to incumbent Nir Barkat, was detained and questioned at the Ben Gurion International Airport on Monday.
Lion was interrogated by customs officials for allegedly trying to smuggle clothes into Israel.
According to reports in the Israeli media, Lion was detained after he went through the green customs lane at the airport, meaning he had no taxable items to declare, instead of through the red lane, which indicates one has items to declare.
Customs officials ordered Lion to open his suitcases and discovered the clothes, reportedly worth thousands of dollars. After a short interrogation, he was allowed to go home. The Tax Authority will decide in the coming days whether to recommend he be indicted.
Lion’s office said on Monday night, "Moshe Lion wishes to clarify that the clothing items in question were purchased for personal use for him and his family. In the past, when he declared clothing items through the red lane, he was told explicitly that there is no need to do so, and that’s what he thought this time as well.”
Associates of Lion who spoke to Arutz Sheva on Monday evening expressed their surprise that the media made such a hype over the incident, accusing interested parties of being behind the hype.
“How many clothes you can put in two suitcases? This is an attempt by people with interests to turn the man into a criminal. Those who know the procedures know very well that there is no need to declare new clothes bought overseas,” the associates said.
Lion ran for mayor of Jerusalem with the support of MKs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Aryeh Deri (Shas). A resident of the central Israel city of Givatayim who moved to Jerusalem just before the elections, Lion was accused by some of being a “puppet” of Lieberman and Deri.
After losing to Barkat, Lion clarified that his intentions in running were sincere, and has clarified that he intends to remain in Jerusalem and serve on its city council.