Former PM Ehud Olmert .
(photo credit: AMIT SHABAY/POOL)
Police raided the book publishing offices of Yediot Aharonot in Rishon Lezion on Thursday after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit authorized a preliminary review into allegedly classified documents that were leaked by imprisoned former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Mandelblit said that depending on the results of the initial review he would decide if the incident warranted opening a full criminal investigation.
Olmert, who is serving a 27-month sentence in Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle for corruption offenses, started writing a memoir and asked his lawyer to bring materials, some of them allegedly classified, to his jail cell as background for his book.
Former premier Olmert, just before entering jail: 'I did not take bribes'
Olmert’s attorney was detained in May after he was caught with the materials in his possession following a visit with the former head of government.
A statement from Mandelblit’s office on Thursday said one of Olmert’s lawyers was caught smuggling out portions of the new book, which contain classified information. The probe is expected to include a variety of people who visited Olmert in prison while he was writing his book.
According to the Justice Ministry, Olmert was previously warned that the censor had declared the information prohibited from being published.
In light of the probe, the prosecution requested to postpone a parole hearing for Olmert on Sunday. However, the request was denied by the parole board. The prosecution stated that the new probe could impact the board’s decision and thus more information should be gathered before the hearing.
Following the detention of Olmert’s lawyer in May, the Israel Prison Service denied the former prime minister access to public phones and vacations.
In a statement last month, Olmert’s attorney’s said that his client “does not require any seal of approval as to his connection and responsibility for subjects that are related to Israel’s national security.
He has never leaked anything sensitive on subjects of security or intelligence that could have damaged the State of Israel.”
The statement added that Olmert has submitted his autobiography to the Censor’s Office.
“During his time in prison, Mr. Olmert wrote an autobiographical book that deals with his life affairs and his activities in social, financial and crucial security subjects.
“This book was passed on in its entirety to the Censor’s Office over two months ago and no one, especially not Mr. Olmert, has the intention of publishing it without getting the censor’s approval. Beyond this book, Mr. Olmert has not released any classified material of any other sort, he has not passed such materials on and did not publish them.”
The Union of Journalists in Israel in a statement on Thursday condemned the police searches of the Yediot Aharonot
building, saying the incident violated “the principle of journalistic confidentiality, which has been recognized many times in the rulings of the Supreme Court, and protects the flow of information to the public through the press.”
In March, President Reuven Rivlin denied Olmert’s request for clemency. The president’s office released a statement at the time in which it explained Rivlin’s decision, stating that “despite Olmert’s fall from grace to the lowest depths, the reasons given for his request were known to the court when he was sentenced and the court nonetheless chose to incarcerate him.”