Security cameras recently installed in the renovated part of the Knesset where journalists now have their offices have been removed, following a request by the chairman of the Knesset journalists and a number of reporters.
Knesset director general Avi Balashnikov said he did not know the two cameras had been installed.
Balashnikov said chief Knesset security officer Yitzhak Shadar told him the plan to install the cameras had been in the works for some time.
The chairman of the Knesset journalists, Ya'akov Eichler, wrote Balashnikov that the Knesset reporters were "stunned" to find the two security cameras when they returned from recess.
"The reporters view the installation of the cameras as a serious impairment of their work in the Knesset, as it presents a danger that people going in and out of journalists' rooms will be monitored, including MKs and Knesset aides," Eichler also wrote.
The reporters offices were moved two months ago to more spacious quarters. Eichler noted that there had been attempts to install cameras in the old office corridor, ostensibly for security purposes, but the attempt was stopped due to journalists' privilege.
Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) called the presence of the cameras "scandalous and a serious blow to the media and their independence."
"It never occured to me to install cameras in the journalists' corridor," Balashnikov said. He also said that when it was decided to move the journalists to their new quarters, he made sure there were no cameras there.
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik said she was unaware of the installation or the existence of the cameras.
Cameras are installed in Knesset corridors and record everything that happens there. The films are stored for an extended time in the computers of the Knesset Guard. Such a camera recorded former Likud MK Yehiel Hazan removing an old voting machine from a storeroom during his investigation for double-voting. Cameras also revealed that MK Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beiteinu) removing equipment and a plant from the office of MK Ruhama Avraham (Kadima).
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