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Israel: Once More on The Hot Seat

2 minute read

The last thing that Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI, needs is the hint of fresh scandal. The agency has been reeling from charges that it covered up the murders of two captured Arab bus hijackers in 1984, an affair that led eleven top Shin Bet officials to accept a presidential pardon in order to avoid possible criminal charges. Yet last week, amid newspaper headlines that screamed NEW SCANDAL, more trouble is exactly what Shin Bet got.

The case centers on Azat Napso, an army lieutenant convicted in 1980 on charges of spying for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Throughout his military trial Napso, now 32, maintained his innocence, claiming that some of the evidence presented against him had been tampered with. Last February, under a new law permitting Israel’s Supreme Court to review military verdicts, Napso won the right to an appeal. It is scheduled to be heard in late May.

The Israeli press quickly identified the head Shin Bet investigator in the Napso case as Yossi Ginossar, who resigned from the agency in the bus- hijacking scandal. Ginossar, now director of the state-owned Israel Export Institute, issued a statement through his lawyer that news reports linking him to evidence tampering in the Napso case “were without any basis in reality.” Shin Bet officials, who for security reasons want to avoid a public airing of their methods and operations in open court, have sounded out Napso on the possibility of a pardon. So far, he has rebuffed the entreaties.

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