Blau convicted of holding classified IDF documents (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 07/25/12)
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Uri Blau, the Haaretz journalist who used stolen classified IDF
documents in reports accusing the army of defying a High Court ruling
against targeted killings, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the charge of
possessing classified information without intent to harm state
The Tel Aviv District Court convicted Blau of the charge of
aggravated espionage (possession of classified information).
Tuesday’s hearing came after Blau’s lawyers and the state reached a
plea deal earlier this month.
Under the terms of the deal, Blau has agreed to plead guilty in
return for a four-month prison term, which the court is expected to
impose as community service, subject to a report by the community
The court will reconvene on September 3 to discuss that report and it
is likely that Judge Ido Druyan will pass sentence then.
During arguments for sentencing, prosecuting attorney Hadas Fuhrer-
Gafny said the state had reached the plea deal with Blau’s attorneys
because the prosecution “saw the importance of a free media.”
However, Fuhrer-Gafny said the indictment against Blau was very
severe, noting that the Haaretz reporter had been in possession of
documents that could, if published, resulted in harm to the state.
Blau also did not return all the documents when he was asked by the
state to do so.
The amended indictment, filed in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court,
charges Blau under Article 113 of the Penal Code, which deals with
Notably, however, Weinstein has said that the charge of espionage, in
the traditional sense of the term, does not apply to Blau.
The indictment says Blau obtained around 1,800 classified IDF
documents from former IDF OC Central Command secretary Anat Kamm, on
a USB flash storage device.
Kamm, now 22, stole the documents during her military service in the
OC Central Command Office.
She is serving a four-and-a-half year prison term following her
conviction in February under a plea bargain, in which she pleaded
guilty to gathering and storing classified military documents and
transferring them to Blau.
The documents contained information about various military
operations, including the deployment of IDF forces, summaries of IDF
investigations, IDF assessments and the various goals of the IDF, the
Blau used classified material from those documents as the basis for
two Haaretz articles.
In the first, published in late October 2008, Blau accused the IDF of
defying a High Court of Justice ruling against the targeted killings
of Palestinian terrorists who could have been captured alive. The
next article, published a few weeks later, similarly intimated that
the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings.
Blau held the documents for two years until he finally handed them
over to the Israeli authorities, the indictment said.
However, when the state first asked Blau to hand over all the
documents in his possession, he failed to do so, giving up only
around 50 documents, the indictment said.
Blau continued holding the classified documents in an uncontrolled
manner, which posed a serious risk of damage to state security, again
according to the indictment, which noted that Blau went abroad from
December 2009 until October 2010, even though he knew the Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) wanted to question him.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Fuhrer-Gafny said the prosecution sought a four-
month community service sentence for several reasons, including that
Blau’s indictment is the first time an Israeli journalist has stood
trial for possessing classified documents.
“It was not a deliberate act on behalf of the defendant to receive
the documents. The entire initiative was Kamm’s, done for her own
reasons,” Fuhrer-Gafny said, noting that Kamm had at first tried to
give the documents to another reporter.
Blau told the court that the trial had taken over his life.
“I am a reporter,” he said.
“As such I am obligated to inform the public as much as possible so
that they can understand and judge the situations around them. That
is the essence of a free press in a democratic country.”
Blau said that, in retrospect, he could have acted differently but he
had tried to provide the public with the information it required.
The plea bargain and amended indictment come after Attorney-General
Yehuda Weinstein announced in May that Blau would be indicted.
Weinstein said in reaching the “inevitable” decision to indict Blau
he had taken into account “all the relevant considerations,”
including the need to preserve the character of a free press and
allow the media to carry out its essential role in ensuring the
public’s right to know.
However, the attorney-general said that he and the other government
bodies involved in the case, including officials from the State
Attorney’s Office, the Shin Bet and the police, agreed that the case
is extremely serious in terms of the “characteristics of Blau’s
conduct.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/25/12)
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