(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tel Aviv prosecutors on Saturday denied a Channel 1 report over the weekend that former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and two of his former subordinates are due to be served with indictments for leaking state secrets.
The network’s weekly Friday night news show quoted prosecution sources as saying Ashkenazi is suspected of “leaking the second-most guarded secret.”
A Justice Ministry spokesperson refuted the report, on Saturday.
“According to the report, there is enough evidence to constitute an indictment against Gabi Ashkenazi, Erez Viner, and Avi Benayahu,” the spokesman said, referring to the two former subordinates.
“We would like to make clear that Tel Aviv district prosecutors have yet to formulate a legal opinion on the matter.
The evidence is still being examined by prosecutors who are well-versed in the case.
“Therefore, we completely deny the contents of the Channel 1 report,” the spokesman said.
Police this past fall recommended to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein that he indict Ashkenazi, cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit, former IDF spokesman Brig.- Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu and three other former senior army officers as part of the Boaz Harpaz affair.
Those officers are Ashkenazi’s former chief-of-staff Col. (res.) Erez Viner, former Golani Reconnaissance Battalion commander Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni, and Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz.
The list of suspects, which made up a large portion of the IDF’s senior command only a few years ago, is unprecedented.
The Harpaz Affair was an alleged 2010 plot by Lt.-Col.
(res.) Boaz Harpaz, a reserve officer and associate of Ashkenazi, to illegally undermine then-defense minister Ehud Barak’s choice to succeed Ashkenazi as chief of staff, as part of a more general battle between Barak and Ashkenazi involving both sides allegedly spying and spreading misinformation about the other.
Regarding the central allegation that Barak had brandished against Ashkenazi and the other former IDF officers, the police rejected any charge of a “putsch” to overthrow him.
The police also rejected all allegations that Ashkenazi or the others had any connection to Harpaz’s forging of a document that started the investigation, even adding that the investigation lent further support to their claims of non-involvement and their belief that the document was not a forgery.
Furthermore, the police rejected allegations that Ashkenazi’s or the others’ alleged spying or trying to undermine Barak rose to the level of criminality, while criticizing their actions generally as ethically problematic.
Still, the police recommended charging Ashkenazi with two counts of breach of public trust and illegally revealing classified material.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.