State: Gag order lifted after talks with Blau collapsed

By DAN IZENBERG
April 9, 2010 08:34
2 minute read.

 
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The state agreed to lift most of the gag order on the Anat Kamm and Uri Blau affair after Haaretz reporter Blau rejected a proposal by the state aimed at retrieving the stolen army documents, some of which were classified as top secret or secret, Raz Nizri, senior aide to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, told Israel Radio on Thursday.

“We asked for the gag order for two main reasons,” Nizri explained. “First of all, out of concern for state security, [for reasons that will become obvious] after we know exactly what documents we are talking about. Some of these documents are still under the gag order.

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“Second, the main purpose all along was to try to get hold of those hundreds of documents that were in the journalist’s possession.”

Nizri added that the gag order had been successful, all in all.

“To the best of my knowledge, the international media only began reporting about the matter in the last week or 10 days,” he said. “We are talking about negotiations with Blau’s lawyers that went on for the past few months.

“Only on Tuesday did Blau, through his attorney, reject the state’s generous offers, which were aimed at retrieving the documents. After Blau rejected the offer, the attorney-general and the state attorney decided that under these circumstances, the main facts of the affair could be released.”

Nizri also accused “interested parties of seeing to it that the details of the affair would be published abroad in an imprecise and distorted way,” in order to discredit Israel. The incorrect reports that it was the military censor, and not a civilian court, that had banned publication of the affair “was [also] aimed at portraying us in a negative way,” he said.



He rejected allegations that the state was trying to suppress free speech by gagging the media. “Freedom of the press is a guiding light for us,” Nizri said. “The issue here is to prevent security anarchy that could cost lives, as plain and simple as that.”

The state had respected the principle of freedom of the press in the case, Nizri added.

“The state agreed not to put Blau on trial even though he committed a crime by his very possession of the classified material, said Nizri. “It also agreed not to question him regarding the source of the material that he received.”

According to Nizri, the state negotiated with Blau twice and reached an agreement with him the first time: Blau allegedly promised to return all the documents in his possession. In the event, he returned 50 documents. Later, state investigators learned that Kamm had given him “hundreds” of documents. Once again, they tried to negotiate with Blau. These were the negotiations that ended in failure on Tuesday.

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