'PM's lawyers behind investigation media leaks'

Former senior police investigator say Olmert's attorneys and "spin doctors" trying to discredit Talansky.

olmert fie on you 88 (photo credit: )
olmert fie on you 88
(photo credit: )
Lawyers and spin doctors working for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are responsible for media leaks about the criminal investigation into the premier, with a view to discrediting Morris Talansky, the central witness in the case, former senior police investigator Moshe Mizrahi charged on Monday. The accusation came as another report from the investigation surfaced, which claimed Talansky told police interrogators he gave the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin $5,000 stuffed in an envelope in 1983. According to the report, Talansky sought to illustrate that he donated to a range of politicians over the years and was not seeking to bribe them. Talansky's lawyer, Jack Chen, denied that his client had made such a statement. According to the same report, Talansky broke down in tears during the interrogation session and displayed hostility toward Olmert. "The prime minister's lawyers are feeding the media spin. It is not the police who are releasing details from Talansky's interrogations," Mizrahi said. "Olmert's lawyers are making Talansky out to be someone who is shooting in every direction. They are trying to question his credibility on the eve of Talansky's testimony to the court," he added. Olmert's attorney, Eli Zohar, said, "We have no interest in responding. Everyone can have their opinion and invent whatever they like." On Sunday, police firmly rejected allegations that they were behind the large number of press leaks of vital details of the investigation. "We firmly deny, and view with severity, any attempt to hold us responsible for the leaks from the investigation into the prime minister," the police said in a statement. The police went on to somewhat vaguely attack "the conduct of various elements that possess details of the investigation, and pass them on, due to various interests." They did not say who was leaking the details, but Olmert's aides and lawyers have an interest in leaking these reports, Mizrahi said. "Now that they have access to case material on the investigation, they will leak that too, taking things out of context with a view to harm the police and the prosecution's case," he said. Looking ahead to the next stage of the investigation, Mizrahi said a team of National Fraud Unit detectives will fly out to the United States to track down other donors who are believed to have illegally transferred funds to Olmert. "They're going to check who is behind the big money that Talansky raised. Talansky acted as fund-raiser, funneling other people's funds to Olmert. The police need to identify those other donors and find out what interests they represented. They will look at why these donors wanted Olmert to intervene for them," he said. "We still do not know who they are." Mizrahi reiterated his theory that police already have a clear-cut bribery case before them, based on the fact that the current investigation has found Uri Messer, Olmert's close associate and former legal partner, to have acted as the prime minister's "bank," dispensing Talansky's money to Olmert when needed. A second ongoing police investigation from 2007 is looking into suspicions that Olmert helped arrange an investment opportunity for Messer while serving as minister of industry, trade and labor. "Olmert intervened on behalf of Messer while he was the minister of trade, industry, and labor, while Messer dispensed [Talansky's] cash to Olmert. I don't see how Olmert can escape a bribery charge here," Mizrahi said. The prime minister's situation is compounded by the fact that Messer "refuses to allow Olmert to pin all of the blame on him. There's a huge gap between what Messer and Olmert say," Mizrahi continued. Shula Zaken, Olmert's former bureau chief, "also handled the funds, and is still remaining silent. As a public official who received money, she can also be charged."