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Prisoner X, the Mossad andThe Futility of Censorship

Yossi Melman reviews the recent history of Israeli censorship in the name of security and recommends that Israel end the practice.
The headstone of the grave of Ben Zygier, the Australian whom local media have identified as the man who died in an Israeli prison in 2010 and who may have been recruited by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, is pictured at a Jewish cemetery in Melbourne February 14, 2013. Israel broke its official silence on Wednesday over the reported suicide in jail of an Australian immigrant recruited to its spy service Mossad, giving limited details on a closely guarded case. After appeals by local media chafing at Is

On a sunny, humid afternoon in June 2010, I sat on the plaintiff’s bench in Judge Hila Gerstel’s court in Petach Tikva, a town about eight miles east of the bustling city of Tel Aviv. Opposite my lawyer and me were representatives and legal advisors of Israel’s security establishment. My goal, on behalf of the newspaper I then worked for, Haaretz, was to persuade Judge Gerstel to lift a gag order.

We lost the case. Judge Gerstel refused to consider even a compromise — to allow us to reprint news items published abroad about a mysterious Prisoner X. Because of the judicial gag order, the episode was omitted from a book that I later co-authored.

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