Israel's Attorney General Decides Against Criminal Investigation of Haaretz for Breach of Censorship in Zygier Affair

Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman
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Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman

The Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein considered ordering a criminal investigation against Haaretz and its executives following the publication of a feature relating the Australian report of the Ben Zygier affair. In a letter sent on Thursday to Haaretz editor-in-chief, Aluf Ben, Weinstein wrote that the publication of the report in Haaretz's website for more than three hours, despite the censor's request to remove it, was cause for suspicion of breaching a gag order. Still, Weinstein added that "after much consideration, I decided not to order such an investigation."

Weinstein explained that his decision was "due to my general approach, according to which one should refrain if possible from criminal investigations against media outlets, since such investigations might be a 'cooling factor' as far as journalists and newspapers are concerned. Another factor taken into consideration was that finally, after several hours, Haaretz removed the story from its site."

"Still," Weinstein added, "you must not wrongly assume that this reserve will prevent us from ordering such criminal investigations in the future, in similar circumstances, against your newspaper or any other media outlet. In a law abiding state, there is no justification to knowingly breach a judicial gag order, and it is inconceivable that any newspaper or journalist commit such an action." Weinstein wrote that "exalted as it is, the right of the public to know is not superior to the public's right to live in security."

Haaretz editor-in-chief, Aluf Ben's response: "We received the Attorney General's letter and are studying its contents.

An Israeli newspaper shows a photo of Ben Zygier, believed to be Israel's 'Prisoner X.'Credit: AP

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