'Liberman created atmosphere of terror in FM'

Former deputy FM Ayalon tells Channel 2 witness testimony in Liberman trial marred by fear boss will return to work.

May 4, 2013 21:17
1 minute read.
Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon.

Danny Ayalon 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman created an “atmosphere of terror” at the ministry that made it hard to work there, his former deputy Danny Ayalon said on Saturday in an interview with Channel 2’s Meet the Press program.

Ayalon explained why he was the prosecution’s top witness against Liberman in the trial in which he testified on Thursday. Top diplomats who testified at trial were afraid of confirming allegations against Liberman because he might become foreign minister again and take revenge against them, he said.

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“They still are serving there [in the Foreign Ministry], so they would be risking their livelihood if Liberman returns to the ministry,” he said in the interview.

The other witness who has supported significant portions of the state’s narrative, Victor Harel, formerly was at the ministry as head inspector, but has since retired, meaning that like Ayalon, he need not worry about the impact that testifying might have on his career.

Amid charges that Ayalon was acting out of revenge against Liberman for leaving him off Yisrael Beytenu’s Knesset candidates list, Ayalon offered to take a polygraph test to prove he was telling the truth. He said Liberman often forced ministry staffers to take polygraph tests to prove they did not leak information.

Ayalon accused Liberman’s associates of hacking into his email and that of people he had been in contact with after he complained to police against Liberman.

“The police took my computer and reached sad conclusions,” he said.

Liberman is accused of fraud and breach of public trust in the case, referred to as the Belarusan Ambassador Affair, but denies all of the charges.

The two main allegations in the case are that Liberman failed to report Ze’ev Ben- Aryeh, who illegally showed him classified material in an investigation against him, and that he subsequently actively promoted Ben-Aryeh for the position of ambassador to Latvia as “payment.”

In his testimony, Ayalon said Liberman told him he wanted Ben-Aryeh appointed as ambassador to Latvia. Ayalon also told the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that Yossi Gal, then director- general of the Foreign Ministry, informed him that Sharon Shalom, then Liberman’s chief of staff, had asked the directorgeneral to appoint Ben-Aryeh as ambassador.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.

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