Glatt-Berkowitz sues reporter, 'Haaretz' over Sharon probe leak

Attorney charges that she lost her job due to journalists' irresponsible handling of information she revealed.

sharon hands claped 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sharon hands claped 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Liora Glatt-Berkowitz, the attorney who leaked the news that prime minister Ariel Sharon was under investigation for allegedly receiving millions of shekels to repay illegal campaign contributions, on Sunday sued Haaretz and the reporter who published the leak for NIS 2.5 million. The respondents in the suit for damages include Baruch Kra, now the legal affairs reporter for Channel 10; Shmuel Rozner, at the time the daily editor of the paper; and publisher Amos Schocken. Glatt-Berkowitz charged that she was discovered as the source of the leak and consequently lost her job in the Central District Attorney's Office, where she was a senior attorney, because of Kra's alleged negligence and the failure of his superiors to supervise him properly. In her lawsuit, Glatt-Berkowitz wrote that she decided to leak the story to Kra because although Sharon was running for prime minister, no one in the Justice Ministry had let it be known that he was under investigation for what came to be known as the "Cyril Kern Affair," even though the investigation was not a secret. She called Kra and, in addition to telling him the story of the investigation, gave him copies of two documents. The first was the Israeli request to the South African Ministry of Justice to question Kern. The second was a copy of a personal letter she had written to the state attorney regarding suspicions that suspects allegedly involved in the investigation of Sharon's illegal campaign contributions may have been paying the fees of two lawyers representing an American suspected of being one of the contributors. She had found that the lawyers prevented the American from answering the Israeli investigators' questions. Glatt-Berkowitz wrote that she told Kra not to display the Justice Ministry's letter to the South African government and not to mention the letter she had written to the state attorney, since only she and the state attorney knew about it. She also told him not to call her on a phone that could be traced. He allegedly promised to abide by all of those conditions in return for the scoop. But Kra broke all of the promises, Glatt-Berkowitz said, and called her several times from his cellphone. Police later ordered a printout of his phone calls and found the calls to her. On the night Kra's story appeared in Haaretz, his colleague at Channel 2, Moshe Nussbaum, displayed the copy of the request to the South African government that Glatt-Berkowitz had given Kra and that no one else had. The following day, Kra allegedly wrote a story based on Glatt-Berkowitz's letter to the state attorney. In the lawsuit, she accused him of violating the agreement between them, negligence, violating the code of journalistic ethics and of making money unjustly. Glatt-Berkowitz charged that Kra and Haaretz behaved this way to make money by scoring a victory in the ratings war. "The promises given to the plaintiff by the journalist were grossly violated," she wrote. "From the moment the respondents took possession of the information and the documents, they ignored the promises they had made and used the material as they pleased to glorify themselves and their paper and increase the ratings of their publication. They did this while ignoring the damage they caused by their behavior to the source who gave them the information, that is, the plaintiff." Kra denied that Glatt-Berkowitz had imposed any conditions in return for leaking the story to him. "Despite the fact that this source did not make any conditions, not regarding secret phones or anything else," he said, "we at Haaretz were extremely careful and spoke to her before publishing the story at our own initiative, in order to make sure we could publish the contents of the document and even a picture of it. "The source answered in the affirmative. The truth is that Glatt-Berkowitz would never have been discovered had she not confessed during her police interrogation that she was the source. It is too bad she did so, but having done so, she would be better off focusing on her own rehabilitation and not wasting her time and the court's on baseless lawsuits and irresponsible accusations."