The Jerusalem Journalists Association began a protest Sunday outside the Justice
Ministry in the capital over the attorney-general’s decision last week to indict
Haaretz reporter Uri Blau.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced
Wednesday that he would charge Blau with possession of classified military
documents, which he received from former OC Central Command secretary Anat Kamm.
The decision follows a 2008 story in which Blau, using leaked documents,
revealed that the military planned in advance to assassinate Palestinian
political leaders and fighters, but then passed their deaths off as mishaps
during “failed” attempts to arrest them.
In a statement released
Thursday, Jerusalem Journalists Association said the decision to indict a
journalist for holding classified documents set a dangerous precedent for press
freedom in the country and called on all its members to join the protest on
The attorney-general said he had carefully considered arguments
that Blau’s attorneys had put forward, but had decided to reject
Blau is to be charged under the Penal Code with aggravated
espionage, which stipulates that obtaining, collecting, preparing, recording or
keeping secret information without authorization, but without intent to harm
state security, is punishable by seven years in prison.
In a statement,
Weinstein noted that though Blau was being charged under the “aggravated
espionage” clause, the indictment would not attribute the offense of “espionage”
to him in the traditional sense of that term.
As a result of Weinstein’s
decision, the Tel Aviv district attorney is expected to file an indictment
against Blau in the Tel Aviv District Court within a few weeks.
attorney-general explained that before deciding to indict the reporter, he had
taken into account “all the relevant considerations,” which he said included 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.”
he said that his office and the other government bodies involved in the case –
including the State Attorney’s Office, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and
the police – agreed that the case was extremely serious in terms of the
“characteristics of Blau’s conduct.”