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Avigdor Feldman, an Israeli lawyer with whom Zygier consulted in Ayalon prison, said last week that meeting was arranged by a “Mossad liaison” and that his client had denied “grave charges” for which he awaited trial.
Feldman also said that Zygier’s family, which has declined all comment on the affair, knew about his detention.
Two senior members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, offered reassurance in Israeli media interviews on Saturday that the case was rare, lawful and necessary.
“This took place because of extreme, most extraordinary circumstances, in order to protect very important interests,” Meridor told Channel 10 television.
The incarceration was approved by several Israeli courts.
Publishing the prisoner’s identity would have risked “serious harm to security”, Meridor said without elaborating.
While also reticent about what led to Zygier’s arrest, Yaalon told Channel Two television: “There are extreme situations…to do with our security and even the need to preserve human life, when we need to take an extreme step such as this.”
Tzachi Hanegbi, a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party who chaired parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee and intelligence subcommittee when Zygier was arrested in early 2010, said he was not informed of the case at the time.
“This requires explanation,” Hanegbi said. “Usually, every significant subject, whether it is impressive achievements or embarrasing failures, is laid out before the subcommittee.”
But asked about Hanegbi’s remarks, former Mossad director Danny Yatom told Reuters the agency was under no legal obligation to brief oversight lawmakers in such circumstances.