Lawyers for Anat Kamm, who is serving four-and-a-half years in prison for serious espionage crimes, told the Supreme Court on Monday that her sentence should be significantly reduced.

The former IDF OC Central Command secretary was convicted last February in a plea bargain, in which she admitted to collecting and storing classified military documents and passing them to Uri Blau, a Haaretz journalist.

Her appeal hearing came a week after the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Blau of aggravated espionage (possession of classified information), after he agreed to plead guilty under the terms of a deal reached between his lawyers and state prosecutors. The prosecution recommended that the court sentence Blau to four months in prison but asked that this run as community service. However the court has not yet accepted that request, and has asked the community service commissioner to present a report in September on the suitability of the sentence.

The Supreme Court will rule on Kamm’s appeal after the District Court has passed sentence on Blau.

In Monday’s Supreme Court hearing, the main line of defense used by Kamm’s attorney, Ilan Bombach, was that Kamm had received a far harsher sentence than that proposed for Blau and that sentences handed down to defendants in other national security cases had also been lighter.

Bombach told the court that there was a “huge, incomprehensible gap” between the sentence proposed for Blau and that handed down to Kamm. Blau had pleaded guilty and was convicted on one of the same charges as Kamm – holding classified documents without permission, Bombach argued.

Bombach said Blau had reneged on a deal he made with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) by handing over only a tiny fraction of the documents in his possession and had fled abroad, knowing he could cause enormous damage, whereas Kamm had handed over all the documents and expressed remorse.

Kamm filed the appeal against her sentence last October, before the attorney-general had even made a decision on whether or not to indict Blau. Bombach is clearly hoping that Blau’s plea bargain will only serve to help Kamm’s appeal case.

When the plea bargain was announced, Kamm’s counsel asked the Supreme Court for permission to attach it to her appeal documents in support of their arguments that Kamm’s sentence should be reduced. Bombach wrote to the court that “regarding Blau the prosecution was satisfied with four months of community service, when Kamm had already received a four-and-ahalf year prison term after spending two years under house arrest.”

Also significant in Kamm’s appeal is the fact that the plea bargain she signed with the state dropped two far more severe charges against her of deliberately intending to harm state security, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Bombach told justices on Monday that the defendant in another case, Tali Fahima, had been convicted of intending to harm state security but had received only three years in prison.

Fahima, who was born an Israeli but considers herself a Palestinian, was convicted in 2004 of maintaining contacts with a foreign agent, al-Aqsa Brigades chief Zakaria Zubeidi.

Kamm’s attorney also brought up the case of Brig.- Gen. Yitzhak Ya’acov, former head of the IDF’s weapons research and development program, who in 2002 received a two-year suspended sentence for harming state security after writing two books on Israel’s weapons development program.

Justice Hanan Melcer said that Kamm’s case was different to that of Ya’acov, because it involved a very large number of recent documents, whereas Ya’acov had passed on information from old, out-of-date documents.

Justice Edna Arbel said that Ya’acov’s sentence had also taken into account his advanced age – he was 76 at the time of the sentencing – and that he was in poor health.

The court will rule on the appeal at a later date.

Kamm’s mother, Ada Gersht, told reporters before the hearing that she “wanted to believe the court would not be influenced by ‘talkbackistas,’” referring to members of the public who leave comments on news sites.

During Kamm’s District Court trial, the prosecution had requested a far harsher punishment of 15 years imprisonment, the maximum penalty for the offenses for which she was convicted.

However, the court said it had taken into account the mitigating circumstances of Kamm’s young age, her lack of a criminal record, and that she had complied readily with the investigation, including giving a full confession.

However, District Court judges also said Kamm had “cynically exploited her position” during her army service as a clerk in the office of Maj.- Gen Yair Naveh to steal 2,085 IDF documents – over 700 of which were highly classified – and transfer them to Blau.

In September 2008, after her discharge from the army, Kamm intended to give the files to Yediot Aharonot journalist Yossi Yehoshua, but when that failed she handed a disk containing 1,500 documents, 150 of them highly classified and 330 classified, to Blau.

The Haaretz reporter used classified material from those documents as the basis for two newspaper articles, which accused senior IDF and Shin Bet officials of approving the terms of a targeted killing of a terrorist in violation of a High Court of Justice ruling. A few weeks later another Haaretz story suggested the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger