Weinstein takes heat for not prosecuting Arad

State Control C'tee chair says Arad should be 'required to answer for his actions in the court,' resignation from position not sufficient.

By RON FRIEDMAN
May 19, 2011 05:57
3 minute read.
Weinstein takes heat for not prosecuting Arad

arad uzi. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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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 resignation.

Knesset State Control Committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) filed a request on Wednesday that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss initiate an investigation into the matter.

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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.”

Hasson 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.



The Prime 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 journalist.

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 administration officials.

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 position.

Arad has reportedly lost his high-level security clearance. He is one of Netanyahu’s closest and most trusted advisers.

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 diplomatic relations.

“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.

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