Israeli arrested over alleged serious national security crimes

Man detained three weeks ago, denied access to attorney for 20 days; identity of the suspect and the exact nature of the crimes remain barred from publication

Illustrative photo of a prisoner (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a prisoner (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

An Israeli citizen suspected of serious national security crimes has been held in custody for nearly three weeks without the ability to speak to an attorney, an Ashkelon District Court allowed news outlets to report on Wednesday, scaling back a full gag order on the case.

The identity of the suspect as well as the exact nature of the alleged crimes remain barred from publication.

The man was arrested last month in a joint operation by the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service.

He is suspected of “serious and severe security crimes that undermine the security of the state and is being interrogated by the police and Shin Bet,” the court said.

During his 20 days in custody, the man has been barred from speaking with his attorneys, according to the court.

The court decided to scale back the gag order on the case in light of a request from the Ynet and Haaretz news outlets.

The suspect’s lawyers denied the allegations of national security crimes to Hebrew media and said the court ordered his release from custody on Wednesday.

According to Channel 12, the state was appealing to retain him in custody.

“Our client is a loyal citizen to the State of Israel and it’s not for nothing that the court ordered his release today,” his attorneys said.

The incident comes nearly two months after an IDF intelligence officer accused of harming national security died in a military prison under mysterious circumstances. The serviceman was found in serious condition in his cell on the night of May 16 and was later pronounced dead.

The IDF’s chief of staff has said the officer had nearly caused damage to a state secret, but the damage was prevented at the last minute. The military has said the officer worked alone and did not act on behalf of a foreign government or for financial gain or out of ideology, but out of unspecified “personal motivations.”

Though an autopsy was performed — with a doctor on behalf of the family present — no official cause of death has yet been determined, according to the IDF, though military officials indicated it appeared to be a suicide. Relatives of the officer have expressed doubt that he died by suicide.

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