The Supreme Court ruled Thursday evening that Anat Kamm, the former IDF OC Central Command secretary convicted of gathering and storing classified military documents and transferring them to a journalist, would begin her four-a-half year prison sentence on Wednesday rather than Sunday, as originally ruled by the Tel Aviv District Court last month.
Earlier in the day, in a preliminary hearing on the matter, Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor rejected the request to postpone the prison sentence during the entire appeals process.
Sides argue over Kamm sentencing behind closed doors
During the appeal her defense team is expected to ask the Supreme Court to significantly reduce Kamm’s sentence to a suspended sentence or community service.
The judge also said in her decision Thursday morning that Kamm was not appealing her conviction, as she had signed a plea bargain admitting the charges against her, so there was no risk that Kamm was being imprisoned for offenses she did not commit.
In rejecting Kamm’s request to postpone the sentence during the appeals process, Naor said she was not expressing any opinion about whether the punishment is reasonable, because that would be debated in the full appeal hearing with the full facts of the case.
During the hearing Thursday morning, Kamm’s defense attorney Ilan Bombach argued that his client was “no risk to the public” and that her prison sentence should be postponed pending the appeal.
Kamm was convicted in February in a plea bargain under which she had pleaded guilty to gathering and storing classified military documents during her mandatory army service and transferring them to Uri Blau, a political affairs reporter for Haaretz
. Significantly, the plea bargain Kamm signed dropped two far more severe charges of deliberately intending to harm state security, an offense which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
However, the plea bargain did not include a deal over sentencing, and Kamm is now appealing against the four-anda- half year prison term handed down by the Tel Aviv District Court. That sentence, Kamm says, is too harsh.
The prosecution had strongly opposed any stay of Kamm’s sentence, however had later agreed to the three-day delay.
During the preliminary hearing Thursday morning Attorney Rachel Matar, for the state, reminded the court that Kamm’s actions had put state security at risk by stealing top secret documents and keeping them on her personal laptop until giving them to Blau, a reporter she had never met previously.
“In the indictment she admitted that she did this for ideological reasons,” said Matar. The prosecution also filed an expert opinion on the security risk caused by the exposure of the documents, but did not discuss them in court.
Bombach told Naor that Kamm had “expressed her sincere regret” for her actions and that for the past two years, Kamm has been under house arrest.
“House arrest is not imprisonment,” Naor said in response.
Bombach went on to argue that Kamm had not breached the terms of her detention, and had cooperated fully with the investigation against her.
Kamm had testified in her original District Court trial that she had merely been “stupid” when she gave Blau the documents.
Kamm’s father, Yigal, also testified that his daughter had been “foolish, stupid, idiotic and vapid.”
However, the District Court rejected this defense as “disingenuous” and it seems unlikely Kamm’s defense team will return to this line of defense in the appeal.
Instead, in Thursday’s preliminary hearing, Kamm’s defense team tried to paint a picture in which Kamm was motivated by ideological reasons to steal the documents and give them to Blau, because she believed a High Court of Justice order was apparently being violated.
Kamm stole 2,085 IDF documents, over 700 of which were highly classified, during her army service as a clerk in the office of Maj. Gen Yair Naveh.
In September 2008, after her discharge from the army, Kamm handed Blau a disk containing 1,500 documents, 150 of them highly classified and 330 classified.
A short time afterward, Blau reported that senior IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officials had approved the terms of a targeted killing of a terrorist in violation of a High Court ruling. A few weeks later, another Haaretz
story intimated that the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings.
Bombach said Kamm had not given Blau the documents for financial reasons, but because Blau was a political reporter who was “accustomed to receiving security information.”
Kamm told Blau that the documents showed that High Court orders were being violated and asked him to do something, Bombach said.
Those apparent High Court order violations “tormented Kamm’s heart,” Bombach told the court.