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Court Bars Publication in U.S. of Book by Former Mossad Agent

A former Mossad agent who was temporarily barred last week from publishing a book in Canada about the Israeli intelligence agency has now been prevented from doing so in the United States.

Victor Ostrovsky’s American publisher, St. Martin’s Press, was served with a temporary restraining order early Wednesday, barring publication of “By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insider’s Portrait of the Mossad.”

Judge Michael Dontzin of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan served the publishing firm with the order at 1 a.m., in response to a petition by the Israeli government.

It is in effect until Friday, when the court will hold a further hearing. At that time, attorneys for the Israeli government hope to extend the injunction until the case can be tried in court.

Named as defendants in the case are Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy, a Canadian journalist who co-authored the book.

According to the court order, 17,000 copies of the book were shipped Tuesday to bookstores and wholesalers. St. Martin’s was ordered to notify them by noon Wednesday of the court’s intention to restrain the sale or distribution of the book until a further decision in the case could be made.

Ostrovsky’s book asserts, among other things, that the Mossad knew in advance about Lebanese terrorists’ plans to bomb the United States Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983. The blast took 240 lives.

The book alleges Israel withheld the information from the United States, because it knew the incident would strain U.S.-Arab relations.

BOOK COULD ENDANGER LIVES

One reason the Israeli government succeeded in obtaining the last-minute injunction was that Roy Gainsburg, president of St. Martin’s Press, was quoted in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot as saying that the book would reveal the existence of Mossad agents in the United States and Canada, according to Jonathan Lerner, an attorney representing the Israeli government in the suit.

The injunction read that “publication and dissemination of the book” would “disseminate extremely confidential information which would, among other effects, endanger the lives of various people in the employ of the State of Israel, and would be detrimental to the government of the State of Israel.”

“This case is about a breach of contract,” said Lerner. “Secrets are secrets, and Ostrovsky knew that he couldn’t publish a book without prior approval from the Mossad.”

Officials at St. Martin’s Press did not return phone calls from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Ostrovsky’s Canadian publisher, Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd. of Toronto, was barred from publishing the book last Friday. Stoddart has suspended publication of the book until Monday, when the firm’s appeal will be heard by an Ontario court.

Two Canadian newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen and the Toronto Star, reportedly have been held in contempt of court for printing stories about the Ostrovsky affair.

Ostrovsky, who holds dual Canadian-Israeli citizenship, was a Mossad trainee from 1984 to 1986. Israeli officials in Tel Aviv have stressed that he was dismissed after 18 months because he was “unfit for service.”

He also was dismissed from the Israeli navy in 1982, because he was “unstable,” according to Israeli military sources.

Ostrovsky has gone into hiding in or around Toronto, his Canadian publisher said, but has made himself available for press interviews there.

He told journalists that two Israeli agents visited him last week and told him publication of the book would put him in “all kinds of danger.”

Ostrovsky said he is certain Israeli agents will try to kill or kidnap him.

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