Israeli whistleblower sent to prison after exposing official corruption

Marianne Azizi writes:

A former manager at the Israeli tax authority has been thrown into jail after he had exposed official corruption on a massive scale.

Shuki Mishol had spent more than a decade uncovering corruption of mafia proportions, involving the theft of approximately $14 billion (50 billion shekels) annually from ordinary citizens.

However, the system finally found something with which to prosecute him – an overdue payment of $100 on car insurance – and on 16 May he was sent to prison for two months.

Mr Mishol had led a team in the tax authority which uncovered serious corruption involving the state prosecutor, the chief of police and a leading lawyer. This included taking bribes, rigging court procedures and turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of mafia families.

The corrupt have won – they have turned me into a criminal. The past 11 years have been like a bad dream. But I’m going to jail proudly with my head held high… (Shuki Mishol)

Although two of the main culprits are now in prison, the former state prosecutor, Ruth David, remains free. It was she who initiated a targeted persecution of Mr Shuki, which cost him his family, job, home, money, health and finally, on 16 May, his freedom.

In Israel, there appears to be no shame in imprisoning innocent people. Recent examples include two activists and a human rights lawyer who have been languishing in prison for more than 80 days, with evidence that could be used in their defence being withheld by the prosecution, and a lawyer, Barak Cohen, who is facing the prospect of imprisonment for exposing a banking fraud. Indeed, there would seem to be no limits on curbing freedom of expression and protecting rampant state corruption.

In a video expose, which can be seen here with English subtitles, Mr Mishol says:

The corrupt have won – they have turned me into a criminal. The past 11 years have been like a bad dream. But I’m going to jail proudly with my head held high… knowing I did everything I could to bring these crimes to the public consciousness – devastating corruption in the tax authority, the system of law enforcement and the judiciary in Israel – and for that I’m paying a heavy price.

A long-standing friend of Mr Mishol and fellow campaigner for justice, Rafi Rotem, was convicted last year on 19 counts of “insulting a public official”. At the Supreme Court, he was told “the truth is not a defence”.

Supporters of Israeli whistleblower Shuki Mishol

Supporters of Israeli whistleblower Shuki Mishol

As I walked to the prison door with Mr Mishol’s friends – the same prison I have visited for a month to see the human rights lawyer incarcerated for 80 days without evidence being shown – I shared the sadness of his supporters, some of whom were in tears as he began his sentence.

It was another day of disgrace for Israel, the more so that the main press and TV did not cover the story, leaving the majority of people unaware of the darker side of Israel.

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