(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein came under heavy political fire on Wednesday
for reportedly agreeing not to prosecute former National Security Council head
Uzi Arad for allegedly leaking classified information, in return for Arad’s
'Uzi Arad's leaked info was a civil, not security, issue'
Justice Ministry confirms: Uzi Arad was PMO leak source
Knesset State Control Committee chairman Yoel Hasson
(Kadima) filed a request on Wednesday that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
initiate an investigation into the matter.
In a letter to Lindenstrauss,
Hasson wrote that the failure to prosecute raised suspicions of a violation of
the law according to which “if a person delivers any secret information, without
being authorized to do so, he is liable to 15 years imprisonment.”
said it was safe to assume and to expect that when the source of the leak was
detected, “he be treated severely and be required to answer for his actions in
the court. When it turned out the person who leaked was a confidant of the prime
minister, Mr. Uzi Arad, it was decided to conclude the affair in a questionable
deal; Mr. Arad formally resigned his post in the Prime Minister’s Office and the
attorney-general decided not to press charges.”
The arrangement raised
many questions and caused “grievous injury to the public’s trust in the Israeli
justice system,” Hasson said.
He said that it was appropriate that a
respected and independent agency such as the State Comptroller’s Office
investigate the affair and the behavior of the decision makers.
Minister’s Office, which issued a statement on Tuesday evening when the story
broke saying that there were many inaccuracies in the report and that the office
would not go into the details of an internal investigation, did not respond
further to the matter on Wednesday.
The Justice Ministry confirmed that
Arad was forced to resign because he leaked the classified information, though
according to a Justice Ministry statement Arad denied the leak, and certainly
that he had intentionally leaked information. According to media reports, the
information was inadvertently leaked in a background briefing with a
Channel 2 reported that the leak had to do with an upgrade in
civil nuclear cooperation with the US.
Among the questions that were
being asked on Wednesday were why Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wanted to
appoint Arad as ambassador to London after he knew Arad was the source of the
leak, and why he sent Arad with his successor as National Security Adviser
Yaakov Amidror to the US in recent days for high-level meetings with
Netanyahu’s efforts to appoint Arad as envoy to
London were foiled by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wanted the post to
go to a professional diplomat.
No one has been named to the
Arad has reportedly lost his high-level security
clearance. He is one of Netanyahu’s closest and most trusted
Netanyahu, furious at the leak last July, directed the Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) to find the source. In February the Shin Bet pointed to
Arad as the man responsible.
Arad announced his retirement later that
month, saying he wanted to return to academia.
The Movement for Quality
Government called on the attorney-general to publish his reasons for not
pressing charges against Arad. The NGO said in a letter that though it was not
clear that Arad’s behavior was a criminal offense, similar cases in the past
were pursued through the legal system.
The Movement for Quality
Government cited the case of then- prosecutor Liora Glatt- Berkovich, who tried
to influence the 2004 election by leaking information from the investigation of
prime minister Ariel Sharon’s role in the Cyril Kern affair to Haaretz
journalist Baruch Kra, and said that in that instance the administrative
sanction of forcing her to leave her post was deemed insufficient, and she was
brought to justice even though her leak posed no risk to national security or
“There may be dramatic differences between the two
cases, which dictates the different treatment, but the public is unaware of them
and the given impression raises troubling questions as to the principle of
equality before the law and whether what stands before the enforcement agencies
is the nature of the felony or that of the felon,” read the letter.