Police chief: PM case leaks didn't come from us

Ex-investigator says Olmert leaked info to show other suspects he didn't "rat them out" in his interrogation.

messer 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
messer 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen maintained Monday that leaks from the corruption probe of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not come from the police. Cohen added that he could back up this claim up with facts. Speaking during a visit to the Jewish Agency offices in Jerusalem, Cohen also rejected claims that police investigators disrespected Remembrance Day in May by continuing to search the Prime Minister's Office as sirens sounded throughout the country. Such allegations, Cohen said, were "distorted." "Police officers who were there told everyone to stand [and observe the national moment of silence] as the siren sounded, and any attempt to say otherwise is wrong," he said. On Sunday, a former chief National Fraud Unit investigator told The Jerusalem Post that the spate of media leaks last week that saw two full transcripts of police interrogation sessions with Olmert published in Hebrew newspapers were an attempt by elements working for the premier to signal other suspects in the probe currently being wiretapped by law enforcement to keep silent. Dep.-Cmdr (ret.) Boaz Guttman, former head investigator at the National Fraud Unit, said there could be no question the extended transcripts that appeared in Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv last week of detectives' interrogation sessions with the prime minister came from "Olmert's people," who were trying to show the other main suspects in the probe - especially Olmert's longtime close associates Uri Messer and Shula Zaken - that Olmert had not "ratted them out," and that they should therefore refrain from cooperating with police. "Olmert can't meet the other suspects because he is surrounded by Shin Bet [bodyguards] and his every movement is reported. He cannot call the other suspects because they are being wiretapped by the Shin Bet on behalf of the police. So he is telling them, through the newspapers: 'Look at the transcripts, I haven't uttered a word to incriminate you, and you must do the same.' "They're all co-conspirators and they're [Olmert, Zaken and Messer] cooperating," Guttman said. "Because of the wiretapping, Olmert can't pick up the phone to Messer and say, 'Look, I haven't told police anything.' The leaks are the way to send the message. This is how the other suspects are being silenced." Guttman blasted the media for focusing on Olmert's apparent lapses of memory during the interrogations, saying they were missing the point of the leaks. "The main aim is to tell the other suspects: I haven't talked," he said. "These ongoing leaks have one goal, and that is to silence suspects who are being wiretapped by police, and who do not have parliamentary immunity." "There is no question that police are wiretapping all of the suspects involved in the Olmert investigations," he said. Olmert spokesman Amir Dan dismissed Guttman's allegation. "It is law enforcement agencies that benefit from the leaks, which harm Olmert and his image. Instead of coming up with ridiculous, complex theories, they should immediately order the launch of an investigation into the systematic leaks, something they have refrained from doing for almost a week. And they must know why they have failed to investigate so far," Dan said. But Guttman said a member of the prime minister's camp was definitely behind the leaks. "These leaks are a complete violation of the law, and are punishable by several years in prison," he said. "I can tell you that all of the investigators in the National Fraud Unit are prepared to undergo a polygraph test carried out not only by authorities, but by the Shin Bet. People under my command handled secret materials several times more sensitive than the Olmert transcripts, and none of it has ever been leaked. From 1974, the day that the National Fraud Unit was founded, to 2008, we have never had full transcripts leaked day after day to the press." Guttman said, "As soon as Olmert's lawyers received the binders containing the investigation material, it was clear it would end up on the outside. Worse still, Olmert's PR people are using this to disrupt the investigation." The police's main task now should be to "repair the damages to the investigation," he said.