Lieberman: There was no illegal Belarus tip-off

FM rejects latest claims against him, slams cops.

By
March 5, 2010 05:36
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on a visit to H

lieberman solemn 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on  Thursday evening dismissed recent police suspicions that he illegally received a tip-off in 2008 about a police probe of his affairs.

Speaking at a press conference in Ramat Gan, he also described the latest investigation to center on him as “baseless,” and renewed his media offensive against the Israel Police.

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Lieberman was questioned by police on Tuesday on suspicion of having received the confidential information from former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh, who in August 2008 was asked by the Israel Police’s National Fraud and Lahav 433 units to pass along a request for assistance to law enforcement authorities in Belarus as part of the investigation into Lieberman’s affairs.

The request, which was sent to the embassy in Minsk via the Justice Ministry, contained confidential information on bank account details and individuals in Belarus, according to reports.

“Nothing will come out of this,” Lieberman declared confidently on Thursday evening. “The whole thing is baseless. This will have no impact on the future.”

The foreign minister said the latest investigation was aimed “at pressuring the attorney-general and state prosecutors and to create a hostile public opinion.”

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and state prosecutors will in the coming weeks or months have to decide whether to indict Lieberman.

In August 2009, the Israel Police said evidence existed to charge Lieberman for taking bribes, fraudulently receiving goods, abuse of public office, obstructing justice, harassing witnesses and laundering millions of shekels using a host of shell companies and bank accounts.

During his press conference, Lieberman said the police “have a right to question any public figure. But what is not acceptable is that I can’t discuss my version of events, yet after I was questioned, every detail was released [by police to the media] in a distorted way, every two hours.”

Lieberman accused the police of “systematically” feeding the media biased information, and questioned reports that the police’s press release on Tuesday detailing the suspicions was coordinated in advance by police, state prosecutors and the attorney general, suggesting instead that the release was a police initiative only.

“No one gave the police permission to put out what they did. The aim was to mislead the public,” he said.

Source in the police have in recent days denied Lieberman’s allegations, telling The Jerusalem Post that the investigation has been guided by “facts and professionalism.”

“There were no leaks to the media. When the investigation reached a certain point, a statement was released. The public is entitled to know about all national public figures who are questioned,” a source said this week.

Lieberman said he would have liked to address the specific suspicions against him, but that he was legally prohibited from doing so.

“Yet on the other hand, they are working to create a hostile public opinion against me,” he said.


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