Richard Silverstein writes:
New and astonishing developments in the case of Prisoner X, known to a source within Ehud Barak’s inner circle as Ali Reza Asgari, retired Iran Revolutionary Guard general and former deputy defense minister.
I exposed the name of Prisoner X here a few weeks ago. Today, brings news from Israel that Asgari is dead in his cell. According to the standard version, he committed suicide in his cell within the past week or so. Ynet reported the suicide story and noted that it was under gag order. Of course, this story was erased from the internet, but I’m posting a copy of the article which was taken down from the Ynet site.
What is so interesting about this story is that you have to combine two different articles (the second from Haaretz) to gain more insight into what really happened here. The Haaretz article, which was not removed under gag order because it was written in a sufficiently vague form that it could slip under the gag order, noted that there are investigations of those who die while in secret detention (the case with Asgari). One of the considerations in such an inquiry is whether a “government agency” may have caused the death:
Did such an agency have an interest in silencing the detainee? And if so, was a death declared a “suicide,” really murder? In the case of the death of a prisoner under special treatment [held by the security services], why it was not within the power of the Prison Service to prevent the suicide or some other form of violent death. [Emphasis added]
I should also confirm at this point that my original source for this story reaffirms specifically that it is Asgari, and not some other secret security prisoner who died. My source, I should add, only confirms the “official” government version that he committed suicide and not that he was murdered.
Assuming that the prisoner was indeed Asgari, I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss the claim that he committed suicide. Prolonged isolation, most likely accompanied by intermittent torture, with no prospect of release or a trial, would easily sap anyone’s will to live.
Meanwhile, a new report reveals the barbaric conditions in which Israel keeps prisoners in isolation — conditions one would expect to find used by a brutal authoritarian regime in a third world country.
A classified report by the Israel Bar Association obtained by Haaretz provides a glimpse into the harrowing conditions prisoners separated from the main jail population must endure.
According to the document, which is the first external review of the Prison Service, the isolation wings at the Ayalon and Shikma prisons are not fit for human habitation and “look more like a dungeon,” while most solitary cells in prisons across the country are “crammed, rancid with smells of sewer and mold, and infested with insects.”
“It’s difficult to ignore the feeling that isolation as practiced today serves a function of punishment rather than imprisonment,” wrote the authors of the report, Michael Atia – chairman of the prison service committee at the Israel Bar Association, and Moran Kabalo – chief of criminal law for the IBA.