ABOUT AL-HAARETZ AND THE SPY CASE
1. Chronology of Treason: the Haaretz Spy Case, Step by Step
by Maayana Miskin
The IDF spy case revealed Thursday began in late 2008, with the publication of an article in Haaretz. The article, by writer Uri Blau, accused the IDF of continuing a policy of targeted assassination of terrorists despite a Supreme Court order favoring arrests whenever possible.
Sources in the defense establishment who saw the article â€“ and other pieces by Blau â€“ realized that the writer’s references to the timing and location of IDF arrest operations were unusually detailed. They suspected that Blau had somehow obtained top-secret military documents.
The Chief of Staff requested an investigation, and the request was approved by then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. The Israel Security Agency (ISA), police and IDF began a joint investigation aimed at returning the classified material and finding the person responsible for taking them. The investigation, which was kept under wraps, was subject to oversight by the court system and government legal advisors.
In early 2009, investigators began their search. They soon discovered that Blau was in fact in possession of secret IDF documents.
The ISA took the unusual step of making a deal with Blau, in order to ensure the return of the documents, and in order to respect freedom of the press, including the need for the reporter to protect his sources. It was agreed that Blau would hand over any classified documents in his possession; in return, the documents would not be used as evidence against him or against his source, and he would not be questioned as a suspect or asked to reveal his source.
In late September, 2009, Blau returned dozens of classified documents to the military. His personal computer, on which he had stored classified information, was destroyed.
Investigators continued to seek Blau’s source, and soon afterwards identified her as 23-year-old Anat Kam of Tel Aviv, a media-affairs journalist at the Walla news portal.
Kam was questioned, and revealed that during her military service in the office of then-Central Command Head Major-General Yair Naveh, she had stored thousands of classified documents on the computer provided to her by the IDF. Shortly before her release from service in June 2007, she stored more than 2,000 of the files on a ‘disc-on-key’ device.
She then copied the files onto her personal computer at home, despite being aware that possession of the documents was a serious crime. The documents taken included top-secret files with information on special operations, intelligence reports, General Staff meeting notes, ongoing IDF operations, troop deployment, and more.
‘Soldiers would have died’
Had the information fallen into enemy hands, it would very likely have led to the deaths of military personnel, military sources said.
Investigators also discovered that Kam had attempted to give top-secret information to a different reporter before giving it to Blau in September and October of 2008. The reporter expressed interest in the documents, but Kam was unable to hand over the information as planned.
On January 14, 2010, Kam was indicted for spying, handing out classified information in an attempt to undermine national defense, and gathering and possessing classified information with the intent of undermining national defense.
After discovering that Kam had sent Blau many of the documents in her possession, investigators suspected that Blau had returned only a small percentage of the information he had committed to return. Blau, who has been abroad since December 2009, was summoned back to Israel for questioning, but has not yet returned. The ISA negotiated with his lawyers in hopes of receiving the missing documents, but on April 6, 2010, realized negotiations were futile.
Investigators fear that top-secret documents remain in the possession of unauthorized persons, and that if even a handful of the documents were to find their way into enemy hands, they could cause serious damage to Israel state security.
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2. Media Defends Accused Spy; MK’s Slam Haaretz Newspaper
by Gil Ronen
MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) called on Minister of Interior Eli Yishai to use the powers vested in him by Israeli law to close down the Haaretz newspaper, whose reporter Uri Blau allegedly has possession of thousands of illegally obtained secret documents.
â€œFreedom of expression is the soul of democracy and indeed, the authority to shut down a newspaper is granted only in extreme and unusual cases,â€ Ben-Ari wrote, â€œbut when Haaretz announces it will pay Uri Blau’s expenses, and Haaretz is behind the initiative to keep Blau from returning to Israel â€“ there is no alternative but to order the shutting down of Haaretz newspaper, if only for a short time, until Blau returns, shows up for interrogation and hands over all of the classified documents.â€
MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), the former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) did not go as far as Ben-Ari but called upon Haaretz’s subscribers to freeze their subscriptions until Blau gives back all of the documents obtained illegally “and is immediately fired.â€
Why isn’t Kam in jail?
Terror victims’ advocacy group Almagor issued a statement in which it demanded that Anat Kam â€“ who is accused of stealing the documents and giving them to Blau â€“ be placed under full arrest until her trial ends, and not under house arrest as she is presently. It noted that in previous espionage cases, the individuals charged were always jailed during their trials.
Almagor further demanded that Kam be tried before a military court since she was a uniformed soldier when she carried out her alleged espionage. â€œOnly a panel of judges that includes people of military background can fully appreciate the severity of her deeds, especially given the light atmosphere that is being created by her attorneys and those who side with them in some of the media,â€ the group said.
Indeed, much of Israel’s media coverage of the treason case show news outlets playing defense for the suspected journalist spies and placing the media’s rights to information above the law, this despite IDF statements that Israeli lives might have been threatened by what was contained in the stolen documents.
For hours on end Thursday, Israel’s online media outlets in English headlined the espionage case involving two journalists, one of whom was a soldier at the time, in a way that appeared to favor the suspects. In the afternoon and evening, the top stories in the Ynetnews, JPost and Haaretz websites curiously focused on the accused spy’s version of the affair, depicting her as more of a victim than a villain.
Ynetnews’s top headline was â€œ’Case threatens democracy’â€ â€“ actually an abbreviated version of a quote from Kam’s defense lawyer. JPost also gave prominence to the defense lawyer’s version, with the headline â€œFormer IDF soldier’s lawyer: Case damaging to democracy.â€ The English-language version of Haaretz, a suspected culprit in the affair, quoted the same attorney’s claim that his client, who is accused of wilfully copying thousands of IDF classified documents on to her own computer, had been â€œmade a scapegoatâ€ in its headline.
Channel 2’s central evening newscast featured numerous sound bites from another one of Kam’s lawyers, high-profile attorney Avigdor Feldman, and a sympathetic interview with Kam’s mother. Anchorwoman Yonit Levy spoke with Guy Peleg, the channel’s reporter on legal affairs, and suggested that the accusation of espionage was “too harsh.”
Ynet in Hebrew provided a long video report on a demonstration by about a dozen radical leftists in Tel Aviv who accused the IDF of crimes and praised Kam.
By evening, Haaretz in Hebrew had moved the story that caused shockwaves throughout Israel down to the number five position, giving it less importance than a story about the Obamas’ intention to appear on American Idol.
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