Mossad declassifies a document for the first time in its history

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Mossad logo

For the first time in its existence, the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, has released a document from its secret archive. The secretive spy agency agreed to release its official founding charter in the context of a year-long legal battle with two Israeli daily newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth and Ha’aretz. Last year, the two papers filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice, claiming that the Mossad, as well as Israel’s internal spy agency Shin Bet, and the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, were not adhering to Israel’s archive laws. According to the petition, the three agencies were breaking the law by “maintaining their own archives and keeping them closed to the general public”. The High Court of Justice is still deliberating the case, but Mossad recently approached Ha’aretz and offered to voluntarily release its founding charter. The document, a copy of which is now in the possession of Ha’aretz, was drafted on December 13, 1949, by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who was also defense minister at the time. In it, Ben-Gurion authorizes the establishment of “an institute […] to concentrate and coordinate the state’s intelligence and security actions (military intelligence, the Foreign Ministry’s state department, the General Security Service [Shin Bet] and others)”. The release of the Mossad’s founding charter marks the first-ever release of an internal document in the secretive agency’s 60-year history. Ha’aretz has said it intends to publicize the document in full soon.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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