WASHINGTON ““ Israel’s defense establishment agreed to lift a months-long gag order over an Israeli journalist’s secret house arrest.
Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet internal security service and the State Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday asked Tel Aviv District Court for a partial removal of the gag order that has been in place for the last three-and-a-half months.The request was granted.
The gag order revolves around Anat Kamm, 23, a journalist who was arrested last December and charged under Israel’s espionage and treason for allegedly photocopying and leaking sensitive documents during her time in the IDF. The far-reaching gag order applies not only to the details of Kamm’s arrest but to news of the arrest itself. Israeli media only have been able to refer to the incident as a “security-related affair.”
The documents alleged to have been leaked by Kamm formed the basis for a 2008 Haaretz story implicating top military staff, including Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the military chief of staff, in defying Supreme Court rulings restricting targeted killings.
Though Israeli media was banned from reporting the story, foreign media and blogs not under Israeli jurisdiction have published details of the case. JTA reported the story on March 27. Reportedly, the Supreme Court sent messages to the State Prosecutor’s Office and the presiding judge, Ze’ev Hammer, hinting that situation was untenable.
“If the entire world knows about it, issuing a gag order is baseless,” said Press Council President Dalia Dorner, a former Supreme Court justice. “Gag orders impinge on the freedom of the press, and this is allowed if publication is highly likely to cause grave damage to state security. But if the whole world knows, this alone constitutes a reason to withdraw the injunction.”