The petition was filed by the Movement for Freedom of Information and the human rights group Yesh Din requesting to reveal Shin Bet statistics regarding the use of the regulation during 2004-2008. According to the petitioners, even though the Shin Bet is not included in the Freedom of Information law, "there hasn't been any attempt to expose some of the data in such a way that will balance between the State's security and the freedom of information."
High Court Justice Neal Hendel ruled that "the detailed explanations provided by the authorities have convinced me that accepting the petition, completely or partially, might give an opening that will eventually and unintentionally assist hostile factors who wish to harm the State in some way."
Hendel added: "I was convinced this fear isn't theoretical, but real and proven." However, he did go on to criticize the Shin Bet, saying: "It's not right that the issue of preventing attorney-detainee visits isn't supervised."
In the ruling, Hendel emphasized that "there is no basis to determine that the petitioners' intent was to harm State security" but, was rather to provoke a public discussion, as they claimed.
Lior Yavne, director of research at Yesh Din responded to the ruling and said, "The High Court's ruling prevents any attempt to address the violation of basic rights of suspects."
"The data requested posed no threat to the country's security", added Roy Peled, Director of the Movement for Freedom of Information. "Its disclosure would have exposed the public to the extent to which the Shin Bet impedes the basic right of detainees to meet with their lawyers. It is regrettable that the Court chose to keep this information from the public".
Just last month the Knesset approved a bill in its second and third readings allowing the Shin Bet to extend the remands of those suspected of security violations without having the detainee or his attorney present. This bill will be implemented in cases where lives are at stake.
In addition, the bill states that such remand hearings will be presided over by a High Court justice. It was also decided that the general time of extended remands will not surpass 144 hours.
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