Uri Blau 370.
(photo credit: Facebook)
The Jerusalem Journalists Association is planning a protest Sunday outside the Justice Ministry in the capital over the Attorney-General’s decision this week to indict Haaretz reporter Uri Blau.
A-G 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 Sunday.
The attorney-general said he had carefully considered arguments Blau’s attorneys had put forward, but had decided to reject them.
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.
The 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.”
However, 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.”