The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday convicted Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh, Israel’s
former ambassador to Belarus, of disclosure in breach of duty and obstruction of
justice, three weeks after his lawyers agreed a plea bargain with the
Under the terms of the plea bargain, Ben-Aryeh agreed to admit the
charges in return for the prosecution requesting a sentence of four to six
months of community service and a probationary sentence, which will be
determined by the court.
In Monday’s hearing, judge Hagit Kalmanovith
accepted the plea bargain and convicted Ben-Aryeh. The former diplomat will be
sentenced at a later date, and the court is expected to hear sentencing
arguments in October.
The State Attorney’s Office for Economic Affairs
filed the indictment against Ben- Aryeh at the beginning of May, after receiving
approval from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
Weinstein gave his
agreement to the indictment after Ben Aryeh testified in a hearing in the State
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is also under
investigation, and Weinstein informed him in April last year that the state
planned to indict him – pending a hearing – on charges of fraud, breach of
trust, fraudulent receipt, money laundering and witness
Liberman is suspected of receiving millions of dollars from
private business people, through straw companies, between the years 2001 and
2008, while he was a member of Knesset and a cabinet minister. Liberman
denies all charges.
According to the indictment filed against Ben-Aryeh,
in 2008, at the time of the leak, the then-ambassador had been responsible for
handling requests regarding the transfer of legal assistance between Israeli and
Belarusian law enforcement authorities.
The indictment said that in
February 2008, Ben-Aryeh received a request that Israeli police had sent to its
embassy in Belarus for assistance relating to the criminal investigation into
Liberman, who at the time served as an MK.
Police representatives asked
Ben-Aryeh to refer the request to the Belarusian judicial
Liberman visited Belarus in October 2008, and met with
Ben-Aryeh. During that meeting, Ben-Aryeh told Liberman about the request for
legal assistance, and gave him various details about it, including in
The indictment said Ben- Aryeh exploited the trust placed in him
as an ambassador, and gave information to Liberman without lawful
Liberman, the indictment continued, was not authorized to
receive that information, especially in light of his status as the suspect about
which the Israeli authorities had filed a case.
The suspicions about Ben-
Aryeh’s leaking information to Liberman arose in 2010, just before the former
diplomat was set to take up the post of Israeli ambassador to Latvia and
Instead, Ben-Aryeh took extended leave.