13 Feb 2013

Israel partially lifts media gag on 'Prisoner X'

The Israeli authorities have partially lifted a gag order concerning a man known as "Prisoner X", following widespread international coverage of the case of the top-secret detainee who hanged himself in a high-security prison in Israel. The prisoner was revealed to be an Australian citizen.


According to Israel Radio, domestic media outlets were permitted to quote foreign reports on Prisoner X but not publish or broadcast original material.

The secret detainee was identified by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as Ben Zygier, from Melbourne, who it said had become an agent for the Mossad, Israel's spy agency. Zygier – also known as Ben Alon and Ben Allen – was reported to have been locked in solitary confinement under conditions of strict secrecy in 2010, and hanged himself in his cell later that year. ABC did not disclose the reason for his detention.

The allegations were reported on international news websites, but the Israeli media was forbidden from publishing or broadcasting details. Editors were called by the Israeli prime minister's office to an emergency meeting on Tuesday afternoon, at which their co-operation with the government and the withholding of sensitive information was demanded. Gag orders and military censorship are common in Israel.

Full story on The Guardian