Uri Blau, the Haaretz journalist who obtained stolen classified IDF documents
from former OC Central Command secretary Anat Kamm, will not go to prison, the
Tel Aviv District Attorney announced on Thursday.
The state has reached a
plea bargain agreement with Blau’s attorneys, under which he will admit charges
of illegally possessing classified information.
In return, prosecutors
will ask the court to hand down a four-month community service term.
district attorney filed an amended indictment in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court
that charges Blau under Article 113 of the Penal Code, which deals with
Despite that, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
said in May that the charge of espionage, in the traditional sense of the term,
will not be applied to Blau.
Like all plea bargains, the state’s deal
with Blau is subject to court approval, and the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court will
convene later this month to hear the amended indictment.
says Blau obtained around 1,800 classified IDF documents from Kamm, on a
portable USB storage device.
Kamm, who stole the documents during her
military service, is serving a four and a half year prison term following her
conviction in February – also under a plea bargain – in which she pleaded guilty
to gathering and storing classified military documents and transferring them to
Blau. The documents Blau received from Kamm contained information about various
military operations, including the deployment of IDF forces, summaries of IDF
investigations, IDF assessments and the various goals of the IDF, the indictment
Blau used the classified material as the basis for two Haaretz
articles. In the first, published in late October 2008, Blau accused the IDF of
defying a High Court of Justice ruling against the targeted killings of
Palestinian terrorists. The second, published a few weeks later, similarly
intimated that the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted
Blau held the documents for two years until he finally handed
them over to the Israeli authorities, the indictment said.
initially gave security officials only around 50 documents, the indictment
Blau continued holding the classified documents on his personal
computer, which posed a serious risk of damage to state security, according to
Blau went abroad from December 2009 until October 2010,
even though he knew the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) wanted to question
him, the indictment said. In May, the attorney-general announced he would
prosecute Blau, saying he had taken into account the need to preserve the
character of a free press and allow the media to carry out its essential public
On Thursday, the Jerusalem Journalists Association said they
“regretted” that Blau and the state had signed a plea bargain. “The deal in
actual fact confirms the state’s arguments that journalists are prohibited from
possessing classified documents,” the association said.
Danny Zaken, the
association’s chairman, said the state should have dropped all charges against
Blau, or the court should have rejected the state’s arguments in the name of
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), a journalist by profession, also
criticized the plea bargain, saying it was “very unfortunate that the
attorney-general has not completely retracted the accusations against Blau.” He
called for the prosecution to drop the charges, and said the Israeli press may
now be too scared to fulfill its public role.
Attorney Hila Cohen of
civil rights NGO the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel slammed the plea
Cohen told The Jerusalem Post there was a “huge gap” between
Weinstein’s announcement in May and the plea bargain and said it was in contempt
of the law.
Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims association also
blasted the plea bargain, accusing the prosecution of yielding to media
Indor said the organization would petition the High Court
against the deal if Weinstein did not stop it. “The prosecution’s message is
this: steal, publish and trade Israel’s state secrets. If you belong to the
right industry, you’ll get out cheaply,” Indor concluded.Haaretz
that the indictment set a “dangerous precedent.”
“We did not think it
[was] right to indict him.
However, after the attorney-general decided to
do so, and because there is and never was any dispute about the facts, Blau has
admitted the offense of possessing the documents,” the paper said.