A recent revelation about a mysterious prisoner held in total seclusion from the outside world in a top secret Israeli jail has put Tel Aviv at the center of a new round of controversy.
The issue was initially raised after a report by Israeli news website Ynet disclosed the existence of the "Mr. X" in a maximum-security detention center where the man’s identity is even being kept from his guards.
Quoting unnamed prison officials, the report said Mr. X was held in Unit 15 of Ayalon prison, which is located in a wing that contains a single cell, The Telegraph reported on Monday.
The cited prison wing is reported to be fully cut off from the rest of the prison by double iron doors, sealing the man in such isolation that other prisoners can neither see, nor hear him.
"He is simply a person without a name and without an identity who has been placed in total and utter isolation from the outside world," a prison official was quoted as saying.
The story was immediately taken off the news website after Israel’s internal intelligence service managed to obtain a media blackout order, banning all coverage of the case, according to the UK-based paper.
As efforts by human rights activists inside and outside Israel to unmask Mr. X have failed to bear fruit, questions have been raised on whether the prisoner has been charged, tried, or even convicted.
In a letter to the Israeli attorney general last week, Dan Yakir who heads the legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel protested the secrecy shrouding Mr. X’s detention.
"It is insupportable that…authorities can arrest people in complete secrecy and remove them from public view without the public even knowing such an arrest took place," Yakir wrote in his letter, which is yet to receive a response.
Israeli officials have so far declined to confirm or deny the existence of the top secret detention wing.