ISA to give answers on interrogations

Shin Bet confirms watchdog report that it used terror suspects' families to break them during questioning.

Gaza arrest fab 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza arrest fab 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Knesset Law Committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson instructed the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Sunday to prepare responses to case studies in a report by a human rights group, which charged that the agency frequently uses terror suspects' families to break them during interrogation. The study by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCTI) was released earlier in the morning. The organization charged that "there is widespread use of an interrogation technique whereby family members are used and detainees are subjected to psychological terrorism by exploiting the families." The head of the Shin Bet investigations branch admitted to the committee that in the first case cited in the report - that of Mahmoud Sueti - the charges were correct. "There was no reason to do what we did in the case of Sueti," he said. In light of that case, the official continued, the Shin Bet had drawn up rules prohibiting the use of the technique in all but extreme cases, where it was urgent to obtain information immediately. In the case in question, Sueti was told that his wife and father had been arrested and incarcerated in the detention center where he was being held. Meanwhile, the Shin Bet summoned the two, who were not suspected of any wrongdoing, and ordered them to appear at the facility the next day carrying suitcases. Interrogators brought Sueti to a window and pointed out the two standing in the courtyard. They were then allowed to leave. Afterwards, Sueti tried to commit suicide twice. While the Shin Bet confirmed that the facts presented by PCTI in the Sueti case were true, the officials said they had no information on the other five cases included in the report, because they had only seen it on short notice. However, one source told The Jerusalem Post that PCTI had submitted complaints to the Shin Bet in all five of those cases individually over the past year. During the committee discussion, MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) charged that PCTI was funded by the European Union, which was known to be anti-Israel. He also demanded to know how many years the members of the organization had served in the army. The head of the Shin Bet investigation branch said at the end of the meeting, "Shin Bet investigations are under more court scrutiny than ever before. The scrutiny is carried out on all court levels, and it is correct and appropriate. That is the price that a democratic state must pay."