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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.