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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lieberman says second 'prisoner x' case 'very serious'

Chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that the recently exposed case of another "prisoner x" is an especially serious one.

Lieberman was commenting on reports that another prisoner is being held in the Ayalon Prison in similar conditions to those in which Ben Zygier was held.
"I wish to stress that the State of Israel has full respect for the law and all those cases are under strict supervision of the legal and parliamentary systems through the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's sub-committees.

"The State of Israel protects the rights of all prisoners in accordance with the law. We are very strict about it, though this is an especially serious case."

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch insisted that there are no "hidden prisoners" in Israel.

Addressing the Knesset plenum, Aharonovitch reiterated statements he made after the Ben Zygier affair was first exposed in February 2013. On Tuesday, Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On accused Aharonovitch of giving a "false report" when he said that "there are no hidden prisoners in the State of Israel."

"Minutes from the Knesset plenum on February 20 include statements which I now repeat before you – there are no hidden prisoners in the State of Israel. There is due legal process in Israel; rules and procedures are strictly followed, with concern for the State's security."

The minister stressed he is not retracting his comments. "Arrests are reported to the relevant parties and prisoners' cases are handled by the prosecution and courts in strict adherence to the law."

Nevertheless, Aharonovitch admitted some cases remain confidential. "There are cases that cannot be publicized in the interest of national security and in those cases a gag order is issued. In some cases, it is necessary to hold prisoners under an alias to safeguard national security but in these instances too the prisoners' rights are strictly maintained. They certainly don't disappear on the courts."

Commenting on the existence of a second "prisoner x" the minister said that such reports do not contradict his statements from February. "I suggest the public refrain from speculation based on the reports," he stated.

Attorney Avigdor Feldman, who had met with Zygier a day before the prisoner took his own life, addressed reports pertaining to another prisoner being held under similar conditions," saying "I know of the existence of at least one more secret prisoner. First hand."

Speaking to Israel's 103FM radio, Feldman noted Tuesday that he could not say whether he met with Zygier, adding that he was in the street and "soon someone will come up behind me and gag me. I can't take any chances."

Nonetheless, the attorney disclosed the fact that the newly revealed "Prisoner X" was "a man of the secret defense services, whose work resulted in a grave security breach that did not lead, to my knowledge, to any dismissals but rather to promotions within his organization."

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