Israel Acknowledges ‘Prisoner X’ Existence

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After over two years of a complete media embargo, the comprehensive gag order placed on the case of “Prisoner X,” now known as Ben Zygier/Alon has been partially lifted.

The Justice Ministry’s official statement in the matter makes no mention of Zygier’s name, but it does admit – for the first time – that a man held in a maximum security prison died while in Israel’s custody and that the death was ruled a suicide.

The official statement cleared for publication only a few details: “For security reasons, the prisoner was held under a pseudonym, but his family was notified of the arrest immediately.”  

“The prisoner was held by proxy of an arrest warrant issued by the court. The proceedings were overseen by senior officials in the Justice Ministry and he was duly represented in all the proceedings against him by attorneys Roi Belcher, Moshe Mazor and Boaz Ben-Zur.

“The prisoner’s legal rights were observes at all times, according to the law,” the statement said.

The State further said that “The prisoner in question was found dead in his cell two years ago. Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai, serving as president of the Rishon LeZion Magistrate’s Court, ordered an inquiry into his death, in accordance with the Inquest of Death Law (1958).

“During this proceeding, a writ ordering it be held behind closed doors was issued. The order still stands.”

The Justice Ministry’s statement said that six weeks ago, the investigation had ruled the prisoner’s death a suicide, however, the judge recommended that the State pursue a negligence investigation in the matter.

“National security prevents the release of any other details in this case,” the statement said. “These aspect of national security have been reviewed by the Central District Court, which decided to impose a comprehensive gag order on the case.

“The order was given at the request of the defense establishment, and was approved by the Justice Ministry.”

It was also disclosed that an appeal filed over the gag order by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel was later rescinded by the ACRI at the Supreme Court’s recommendation.

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