Police: Probe of leaks 'being weighed'

But officials say investigation "not on horizon" at the moment, as PM's attorneys protest media leaks.

mazuz 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
mazuz 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Police on Monday downplayed reports claiming an investigation would be launched soon to track down the mysterious source (or sources) leaking information from the criminal probe against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We have made no formal announcement of an investigation into leaks," a National Fraud Unit spokeswoman said. "In any case, we wouldn't be the ones who would investigate, as the police can't investigate the state prosecution and the police can't investigate itself. If an investigation were to take place, it would be the Police Investigations Department (PID) or the Attorney-General's Office that would carry it out." But, she added, "this is not something which is on the horizon. It is [merely] being considered." Calls for an inquiry into the press leaks intensified on Monday after Yediot Aharonot published a transcript of Olmert's second questioning session with detectives, which took place on May 23, regarding the cash-filled envelopes Olmert allegedly received from New York businessman Morris Talansky. The publication of the transcript came one day after Ma'ariv published a transcript from the prime minister's first interrogation on May 2. In the second transcript, Olmert took a far more antagonistic stance toward his interrogators. He accused them of leaking information to the press and insisted on taking his own notes during the questioning session, despite the repeated protests of Fraud Unit head Lt.-Cmdr. Shlomi Ayalon, who said the note-taking would waste too much of the little time police had to question him. During the interrogation, Olmert said he had received a "minuscule" amount of money from Talansky to cover expenses incurred from speaking to organizations at Talansky's request. "[The sum] could have been in the hundreds or in the, uh, thousand or two thousand dollars, or something like that," Olmert said. Detectives confronted Olmert with a contradiction in his testimony, after the prime minister first admitted to transferring cash to his bureau chief, Shula Zaken, and then denied it. "Sorry, you're asking me about two different things. This is exactly the kind of deception you are trying to achieve," replied Olmert. At another point in the investigation, the police asked Olmert about the large sums of cash he allegedly received from Talansky during his term as industry, trade and labor minister between 2003 and 2005. "Tell me, exactly what did I receive from Talansky?" Olmert demanded of his interrogators. He later said, "Again I am saying, I do not know what money you are talking about from 2003. I am asking you to detail to me what funds you are talking about that were apparently given in 2003, and then I could respond." Yediot also published a transcript of an interrogation of the prime minister's son, Shaul, which also appeared last week on the News First Class Web site. The publication of the transcripts prompted Olmert's lawyer, Eli Zohar, to send a letter on Monday to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, demanding that an investigation be launched without delay. "Leaks from the interrogation of the prime minister have crossed all boundaries," Zohar wrote. "I am turning to you with a request to immediately launch an official investigation to locate the source or sources responsible for the leaks." But such an investigation would be unwarranted, according to former Northern District Police chief Cmdr. (ret.) Ya'acov Borovsky, who told The Jerusalem Post that none of the information that appeared in the media could be considered confidential. "What has been leaked? Why are these secrets? Olmert's testimonies published in Ma'ariv and Yediot are not secrets," he said. "I think it's very ugly that they've been taken out of context and published, but there's nothing secret here." "The prime minister's lawyers saw this," Borovsky added. "The material passed through the court. This is open material. Its publication did not harm anyone's rights or any judicial process." "That's nonsense," responded Amir Dan, a spokesman for Olmert. "The materials being leaked to the press are hot investigation evidence, and their publication perverts the police investigation. No court approved the publication of Olmert's testimonies - these are totally secret and could not be released." Former police investigations head Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi said an investigation into the leaks would be pointless, as investigators would have little chance of reaching the source. "They won't find a thing. The source of the leak would just deny it," he said. "All of the lawyers and police officers involved would have to be questioned. Unless the journalists who received the leaks cooperated, it would lead nowhere." "I don't remember such a serious case of leaking," he added. "All of the red lines are being crossed, and the leaks are interfering with due process." Mizrahi said a number of sections from the transcript published in Ma'ariv on Sunday had probably been censored, with some sections from the original transcript removed. "If someone wanted to really harm Olmert, they would leak Uri Messer's testimony," he said, referring to Olmert's close associate who allegedly backed Talansky's version of events. "Messer's account damaged Olmert badly, and leaking that would finish him," Mizrahi said. "So why have Olmert's testimonies been leaked? This does not really harm Olmert. In fact, it somehow serves him - we [read about] him protesting the media leaks in the transcript, which works very well with his claims today. This is a very big question."