Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced former ambassador to Belarus
Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh to four months imprisonment, which will be served through
community service, for subverting an investigation against Foreign Minister
The foreign minister is under investigation for charges
of fraud, breach of trust, obtaining benefits through deceit, money laundering
and witness harassment.
According to a draft indictment made public more
than a year ago, Liberman is suspected of receiving millions of dollars from
private businesspeople through six to eight straw companies between the years
2001-2008 while a member of Knesset and holding various cabinet
When Ben-Aryeh was still ambassador, in 2008, he illegally
tipped off Liberman regarding an investigation into charges that the minister
had accepted bribes and failed to report income to the tax
Ben-Aryeh was able to intercept aspects of the investigation
since he was sent a package by the state to pass on to the Belarusian
authorities requesting legal assistance – which nations sometimes give each
other in gathering evidence that exists in a foreign country.
merely passing on the request and its contents to Belarus, Ben-Aryeh shared it
In June, Ben-Aryeh was convicted of disclosure in breach
of duty and obstruction of justice as part of a plea bargain in which he
admitted to sharing the classified information with Liberman.
noted that it could have given Ben-Aryeh a more severe sentence, but decided on
a more lenient one on several grounds.
The state did push for a slightly
harsher sentence, noting that requests for legal assistance to foreign nations
are a very sensitive political issue, as the violation of the use of classified
information also undermines other nations’ trust and desire to work with Israel
on investigations in the future.
The court noted that Ben- Aryeh did not
waste much of the state’s time with needless litigation, but rather expressed an
early willingness to admit to the charges against him and strike a plea bargain
Ben-Aryeh also benefitted from having a clean prior record and from
having served the state in a distinguished manner for a number of
The former ambassador was also aided by Foreign Ministry officials
who came to testify on his behalf regarding his character and contribution to