lieberman threatening 311.
(photo credit: AP)
The state informed the High Court of Justice on Wednesday it had tried to
investigate leaks emanating from a police investigation of Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman but was unable to do so and therefore had no choice but to
close the case.
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Lieberman petitioned the High Court on March 18, 2008,
after investigative reporter Yoav Yitzhak wrote two articles in his Internet
newspaper, News First Class, about the investigation.
Lieberman said “the
reports quoted entire sections of a report prepared by the police investigation
team headed by Shaul Goelman for outgoing chief of police Moshe
Lieberman wrote that then-attorney-general
Menahem Mazuz had refused his request to investigate who was responsible for the
leak. Mazuz explained to Lieberman that such an investigation would be highly
sensitive because it would require questioning the journalist who received the
leak and all the policemen and others who were privy to the report, and because
the potential harm of such an investigation outweighed the chances that the
culprit would be discovered.
The first hearing on the petition was held
on November 17, 2008, and the court ordered the Justice Ministry’s Police
Investigations Department to conduct an “intensive” investigation into the
“It is inconceivable that police officers who leak information
should be able to sleep peacefully at night,” declared presiding Justice Edmond
Levy. “They must pay for their actions.”
Now the state has informed the
court that it tried to find the person responsible for leaking the report but
was unable to do so and was now asking it to agree to close the case and reject
The next court hearing is due to be held on
On Wednesday, the state’s representative, Dana Briskman, wrote in
a brief to the court that the documents referred to in Yitzhak’s articles were
internal police summaries written in 2004 and published by Yitzhak four years
Miri Golan, then head of the National Unit to Investigate Fraud,
told police investigators that many officers in her unit, including the
investigation team and intelligence officers had seen the report. She said it
was possible that state prosecution employees had also seen it. “Anyone who
wanted to would not have had any trouble seeing the document,” she
Despite the large number of people who may have had access to the
document, the police asked the phone companies to see the lists of calls made
and received by 13 of the potential suspects. They then cross-checked the
potential suspects’ phone numbers against Yitzhak’s phone number.
matches were found but many of the phone numbers that appeared in the list did
not include the name of the owner of the line. The police went to magistrate’s
court for an order allowing the investigators to receive the names of the owners
of the lines.
But the court refused.
The state refused to go any
further to find out directly who had leaked the document. It also
decided not to
check the list of phone calls received by Yitzhak, which might have also
revealed the source of the leaks.
“There is no disputing the
of journalistic immunity to maintain a democratic system and protect
expression,” explained Briskman. “There is also a difference between the
immunity of a journalist and that of other professions noted in the
Only in the case of a journalist is it true that a list of
calls made and received might reveal the source of the information,
which is the
very reason for immunity in the first place.”
those who might have leaked the document, Briskman wrote, “An
conducted to discover the source of a leak or disclosure of information
necessitates suspecting many people, usually without any basis... This
investigation frequently requires following the phone conversations of
involved. This is an act that violates the right to privacy and may also
violations of the client-lawyer relationship or journalistic immunity.”