Chief Justice Hayut to AG: Probe illegal leaks about PM case

A-G slams political class for delegitimization campaign

Avicahi Mandelblit (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Avicahi Mandelblit
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
In what has been deemed a legal earthquake, High Court President Esther Hayut on Monday pressed hard for Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to probe leaks to the media of information regarding cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Although the court may not issue a ruling for weeks, or months, it appeared clear that Hayut and her fellow justices were prepared to endorse a petition by Case 4000 defendants Shaul and Iris Elovitch to compel Mandelblit to order an investigation.
“If this is a recurring phenomenon, hasn’t the moment arrived to take action and review it?” Hayut demanded.
According to the defendants in the cases of alleged corruption against Netanyahu, there have been well over 100 illegal leaks of information to the media that were designed to harm Netanyahu and Elovitch prior to their upcoming trial in January.
To date, Mandelblit has condemned the leaks, but he said that a probe would make matters worse, as it would harm freedom of the press and would discourage whistleblowers, and might not end the leaks, some of which have come from competing defendants’ lawyers.
Hayut’s rebuke of the Attorney-General – a rare admonition from the judiciary on issues related to the prime minister’s case – may open a new pandora’s box for law enforcement and the media.
Also on Monday, Mandelblit accused Netanyahu of running a campaign to discredit him.
Speaking at a Justice Ministry Rosh Hashanah event, Mandelblit said Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s actions were a threat to Israeli democracy and that his recent accusations against the prosecution were lies.
“In the public and political arenas and online, there is a campaign that is intended to discredit my work and the work of the state prosecutor. Those who are running the campaign hope that it will influence our decisions. They are mistaken: We are impervious to outside noise,” Mandelblit said.
He also responded to Ohana’s statement who said that “indicting an elected official is an injury to democracy.” Mandelblit countered by saying that Ohana’s words imply that elected officials are above the law, and this “does harm to democracy.”
Ohana responded to Mandelblit, saying that the state prosecutor and police must be “more righteous than the Pope,” when dealing with an indictment against the prime minister.
He added that what the public is currently witnessing is “lies, leaks and witness tampering.” Ohana added that the police and the prosecutor are “certain that the public is stupid.”