MKs blow cover off censored security affair

MK Tibi asks in Knesset: Is it true an Australian citizen under a different identity committed suicide in an Israeli prison?

Tibi making a point in Knesset 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tibi making a point in Knesset 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The citizens of Israel will soon learn information on a sensitive anonymous prisoner case that the government has kept under wraps, MKs told Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Tuesday.
“An article was published that an Australian prisoner committed suicide under a different identity. Do you know about the situation? Do you confirm that it occurred?” asked MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), in reference to a report from earlier in the day by Australia’s ABC News.
“Are there people in prisons whose incarceration is kept secret? What are the supervision mechanisms on this kind of imprisonment?” demanded Hadash MK Dov Henin. “What are the possibilities for parliamentary supervision on such incarcerations? How can the public be critical in this situation?” Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On told Neeman, “I want to hear your stance on the fact that journalists volunteer to censor information at the government’s request.”
Referring to the informal forum that includes the heads of the country’s Hebrew press outlets and The Jerusalem Post, she asked, “Is it proper that the Prime Minister’s Office invited the Editors’ Committee to prevent news from being publicized? Today, we hear that in a country that claims to be a civilized democracy, journalists cooperate with the government, and that anonymous prisoners, who no one knew existed, commit suicide.”
The questions came during Neeman’s final speech as justice minister.
Neeman responded that prisons were not under his authority, and that the MKs should ask Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch their questions.
He added that he did not know if the reports were accurate, and that they should be investigated.
Labor MK Nachman Shai criticized the very existence of a censor.
“The prime minister forgot that in 2013, the media does not accept his dictates and does not act according to national consensus as in the past,” he stated. “It would be better to present the public with the truth, within security restrictions, and share it with them.”
Shai plans to propose a bill limiting the possibility of censorship, calling the wide use of the practice “ridiculous and upsetting.”
The Labor MK will demand that the courts review censorship requests, and if their content is published in the foreign press, Israeli media should be permitted to print them.
Details of the case are expected to be released Wednesday.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.