Int'l journalists petition A-G to drop Blau charges

Letter says it's vital in a democratic system that journalists not be prosecuted for possessing secret documents.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
A group of leading international journalists sent a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein late Monday night urging him to drop all charges against Haaretz journalist Uri Blau in the name of freedom of the press.
Blau, who published excerpts from a cache of classified military documents, was charged last month with unauthorized possession of the classified materials and, if convicted, could face a seven-year prison sentence.
In the letter to Weinstein, the journalists – all of whom are executive board members of the International Press Institute – called on the attorney-general to drop all criminal charges against Blau. “It is inevitable that journalists covering military and political affairs around the world will end up possessing secret documents,” they pointed out.
“It is vital for any democratic system that they not be prosecuted for this, in particular if – as in the case of Uri Blau – the documents are used solely to serve a strong public interest,” said the letter, which was signed by 21 journalists from some 14 countries.
“As members of the world’s oldest global press freedom organization, grouping publishers, editors and journalists from around the world, we believe that the prosecution of Uri Blau for possession of classified documents will set a grave precedent for the future of Israeli journalism, especially investigative reporting,” said the letter.
Blau, who published a number of reports alleging possible military misconduct, received the classified materials from former soldier Anat Kamm, who is currently serving a four-and- a-half year prison term for her role in the affair.