Police: Leaks from PM case intolerable

Mazuz considers probe of leaks; a list of people with access to case material is being compiled.

messer 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
messer 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The ongoing leaks from the investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have created "an intolerable situation, unprecedented in its severity," Israel Police Investigations Department Chief Cmdr. Yochanan Danino said Wednesday, calling it "a crossing of red lines." But Danino rejected the "finger-pointing" at law enforcement officials, "which was intended to present police in a bad light and erode public faith in the system." Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Wednesday ordered Olmert's lawyers and the prime minister's bureau chief, Shula Zaken, to provide him with a list of anyone who had access to the case material from the illicit funding investigation against the prime minister so that he could decide whether an official inquiry was needed into the numerous leaks from the probe. Olmert's lawyers, public servants, managerial staff as well as Olmert, Zaken and their families were expected to be on the list. A similar request was submitted to the State Prosecution and the Israel Police. In a letter, Mazuz said he viewed the publication of case material severely out of concern of perversion of the course of justice. Mazuz also asked that everyone with access to the material agree to take a polygraph test if they are required to do so. Earlier Wednesday, Olmert's media adviser, Amir Dan, demanded that Mazuz instruct police to open an investigation following the leak of a transcript from a police interrogation of Olmert's former friend and close confidant, Uri Messer. Excerpts from Messer's police testimony published in Wednesday's Yediot Aharonot quoted the attorney claiming that the funds which US financier Morris Talansky delivered to Olmert did not go towards funding campaigns. "I don't know [what they were used for]," Messer told interrogators, "perhaps for political needs, perhaps for personal needs." "I would get a phone call," Messer is quoted as saying, "arrive at the office, collect an envelope with dollars and put it in the safe in my office. Shula [Zaken] asked me to hold onto the money for Olmert." Responding to the publication of the material, Dan told Army Radio that Mazuz's failure thus far to order a police investigation into the leaks sent a "disturbing" message to the public. On Tuesday, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said that the leaks from Olmert's investigation were "out of control." Police on Monday said they were weighing whether to launch an investigation to track down the mysterious source (or sources) leaking information from the probe, but said that such an inquiry was "not something which is on the horizon." Both Yediot and Ma'ariv have published extensive transcripts of Olmert's police interrogation sessions. Meanwhile, Army Radio quoted sources within the State Attorney's Office as saying that a decision on whether to indict the prime minister in the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs would be reached in the coming weeks. Also Wednesday, Talansky's son, who has been living in Israel for 19 years, said his father's contributions to Olmert during his Jerusalem mayoral campaigns as well as to various foundations and charities were based on his "personal interest" for the capital. Speaking to Army Radio on Wednesday, he stressed that his father could not testify about what Olmert did with the money. "You have to ask Olmert about that, not my dad," he said. The US businessman's son maintained that his father was not a rich man. "He has worked hard, he came from a simple background and, thank God, he was successful. However, he is definitely not a rich man." Dan Izenberg contributed to this article