Rightist politicians leveled harsh criticism at the Knesset members who exposed the "Prisoner X" affair, but, surprisingly, the director of the Mossad and the chief military censor have expressed their support for the lawmakers.
"I identify with (MK) Zahava Gal-On, who said 'I am exercising my right to raise difficult questions,'" Chief IDF Censor Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin told Army Radio Thursday morning, a day after Israel acknowledged for the first time that it held the Australia-born dual Israeli citizen under a false name for security reasons and that he died in prison more than two years ago - details that shed new light on a case that has strained relations with its close ally Australia and raised questions about its secretive Mossad agency.
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The censor said there was no request to impose a gag order on the questions MKs Gal-On, Ahmad Tibi and Dov Khenin asked Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman with regards to the affair.
"The MKs in Israel are part of the elected echelon, and I have no intention of interfering in what was said," Vaknin said. "I was asked if their questions should be omitted from the Knesset minutes because there is a gag order on the affair, but I said, 'this is inconceivable'."
Vaknin revealed that the case involving 'Prisoner X,' who has been identified as Ben Zygier, was examined by judges "from the district to the Supreme Court and by other people who do not take freedom of expression or state security lightly, and they were all convinced that issuing a gag order on this case was the right thing to do," the censor claimed. "This was an unusual gag order."
Australian FM discusses 'Prisoner X' affair (Video: Reuters)
"To those who ask me I say that in the modern world it is almost impossible to conceal things. In this age, in the democratic state in which we live, it is not right to conceal many things; only the core should be concealed. This is how the IDF censorship and all the organizations I work with operate," she told Army Radio.
Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Mossad Director Tamir Pardo as saying in closed conversations on Wednesday that "It is unthinkable that someone will dare to try and restrict the right of Knesset members to act or infringe upon their immunity.
"If someone would have asked me, I would say that they should not dare to hurt (the MKs') independence and work," Pardo reportedly told various sources.
According to the sources, the Mossad chief added, "We live in a democratic state, and we all have our roles. We have our role, the courts have their role, and the lawmakers have theirs."
Knesset Member Miri Regev, a former chief military censor and IDF spokeswoman, said MKs Gal-On, Tibi and Khenin should be prosecuted for exposing the affair.