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ben zygier

  • Press freedom in Israel: Democracy in the age of self-censorship

    More worrying than the institutional instruments that enable censorship are the multiple forms of self-censorship that are deeply ingrained in the journalistic practices and conventions of Israeli media. By Ido Liven As the Hebrew proverb goes, "be a tail among lions rather than a head among foxes." In Freedom House's latest report, Israel's state of press freedom demonstrates just that. In the organization's 2012 report, Israel scored 30 on a scale of 10 to 97, putting its press freedom status at the bottom of the better “free” category. In the 2013 report, released on May 1, the country lost one point,…

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  • 'Prisoner X' and the security elite's unchecked power

    Recent actions taken by the heads of the army, Mossad and the internal security service (Shin Bet) reveal the Israeli security establishment's unsupervised power, and the way it directs that power at the country’s own citizens and elected officials. These are the main details which have been made public in the affair of Ben Zygier, also known as 'Prisoner X': Zygier was probably recruited by the Mossad in the years following his immigration to Israel; the Australian secret service grew suspicious of Zygier after he changed his name and took out new passports four different times; according to the latest…

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  • Why Israel will continue trying to keep 'Prisoner X' a secret

    If the reports -- and unraveling details -- about Ben Zygier's work with the Mossad are true, Israel has every reason to try and keep his existence and identity a secret, however superflous those efforts may be. As details about the life, work and untimely demise of ‘Prisoner X’ unravel, the most intriguing unanswered questions remain: why did Israel secretly imprison him and why he is dead? But the details of the story appear to be making one thing clear; Israel’s security services likely had every reason in the world to (try to) keep the affair and Ben Zygier’s identity…

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  • 'Prisoner X': Censorship and gag orders in the age of new media

    The 'Prisoner X' affair was sensitive enough for Israel to use all of its censorship tools at once: the military censor, gag orders and the 'editors committee.' But was the effort by the Prime Minister's Office entirely about national security, or did it have to do with protecting those responsible for the mess? And what should the affair teach us about the ability to keep information from the public in this technological age? The affair known as the death of "Prisoner X" is becoming an interesting test case for the effect of new media on state secrets and the relations between…

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