Bill proposes prison for journalists who publish leaked police info

Amsalem denied that the legislation was designed to muzzle the press.

November 20, 2017 18:30
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on monitors in Channel 10's control room

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on monitors in Channel 10's control room. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)

A new clause in an already controversial bill being advanced by Likud MK David Amsalem calls for journalists to be locked up for a year if they publish information leaked from police investigations.

The clause is part of Amsalem’s so-called “recommendations law,” which would prohibit the police from making a recommendation to the attorney-general to either indict or acquit the subject of a completed investigation.

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Anyone leaking the information would also be liable for a one-year prison sentence.

“A person who publishes information from material of an investigation or passes that material to an unauthorized individual without permission from a court [is liable to] imprisonment for a year,” reads the clause.

Amsalem denied, however, that his legislation was designed to muzzle the press, telling Army Radio on Monday morning that journalists were not his target.

“My intention is not regarding journalists – journalists don’t interest me so much,” said the Likud MK.

He said the intent of the bill was to prevent individuals in the police or State Attorney’s Office from leaking such information.

“We are not trying to close freedom of expression in Israel,” Amsalem said.

Despite Amsalem’s protestations, he did not explain why the clause in question states both that those who “pass on” investigative material would be subject to prison sentences as well as those who “publish” it.

A spokesman for Amsalem later clarified to The Jerusalem Post that the clause regarding prison sentences for publishing material from police investigations “will be amended."

However, when asked about his opposition to President Reuven Rivlin’s decision not to pardon Elor Azaria for having shot dead an injured Palestinian terrorist who was lying on the ground, the MK took the opportunity to snipe at the press.

“By the way, the majority of journalists, their children aren’t going around Hebron,” alleged Amsalem, implying that the children of journalists do not serve in IDF combat units.

Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova denounced the proposed legislation, saying it was designed to protect the prime minister from his investigations.

“In a democracy, one doesn’t threaten journalists doing their job with imprisonment,” said Svetlova.

“Someone with nothing to hide doesn’t send his emissaries to legislate such laws.”

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