Anat Kamm gets 4.5 years for stealing military documents

Judges said the 700 classified documents Kamm gave 'Haaretz' journalist Uri Blau could since have been intercepted by hostile foreign agents.

Anat Kamm stands inside a courtroom in Tel Aviv 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Anat Kamm stands inside a courtroom in Tel Aviv 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday sentenced Anat Kamm, the former IDF OC Central Command secretary convicted of serious espionage crimes, including passing of classified documents to journalist Uri Blau, to four-and- a-half years in prison.
Kamm was also sentenced to 18 months probation.
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Kamm, now aged 24, and who worked as a journalist after her army service for the Walla news portal, was convicted in February in a plea bargain under which she pleaded guilty to gathering and storing more than 2,000 classified military documents during her mandatory army service.
She also admitted to transferring the classified documents to Blau, a political affairs reporter for Haaretz, who used the classified material as the basis for two articles in late 2008.
However, the amended indictment dropped two far more severe charges of deliberately intending to harm state security, offenses carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
In Sunday’s sentencing hearing, the panel of judges, Nurit Ahituv, Miriam Diskin and Ra’anan Ben-Yosef, said Kamm had “cynically exploited her position” during her army service as a clerk in the office of Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh in the capital’s Neveh Ya’acov neighborhood to steal 2,085 IDF documents, including more than 700 classified ones, for ideological reasons and for future publication.
Before Sunday’s court session began, Kamm smiled, sipped coffee, checked her cellphone and chatted with her parents, who had accompanied her to court.
During the hearing, however, Kamm sat alone in the dock with her head bowed low, retaining her composure as Ahituv criticized her actions in copying and stealing the classified files. Only when the judges pronounced Kamm’s 54-month prison sentence did she appear to flinch, but she quickly composed herself, and remained impassive and silent.
Kamm’s parents also seemed calm during the hearing, as they watched their daughter from the public gallery. After the sentence was pronounced, however, Kamm’s father, Yigal, appeared visibly shaken and left the court without speaking to reporters.
Before passing sentence, the judges noted that in September 2008, after her discharge from the army, Kamm intended to give the files she had gathered to a Yediot Aharonot reporter, but when that failed, she handed a disc containing 1,500 documents, 150 of them marked as highly classified and 330 as classified, to Blau.
Blau used the classified material as the basis for two articles for Haaretz. In the first, published in October 2008, Blau accused the IDF of defying a High Court of Justice ruling against the targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists.
The next article, published a few weeks later, similarly intimated that the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings, and included a photocopy of a targeted-killing order Kamm had given Blau.
The judges noted that, in her defense, Kamm had said she acted out of “stupidity” rather than for ideological reasons.
Her father, in character witness testimony in court, had said his daughter had not intended to harm state security but was merely “foolish, stupid, idiotic and vapid.”
However, in passing sentence, the three judges had far harsher words to say about Kamm.
“The claim that this was a mere act of stupidity is disingenuous and is an unconvincing attempt to explain to herself and others things that cannot be in any way justified,” Ahituv said.
“It is difficult to believe,” added the judge, “that the defendant, who has a high level of intelligence, did not understand the meaning, implications and danger of transferring huge amounts of data to a journalist for publication.”
Ahituv described as “almost unimaginable” the number of classified documents Kamm stole from the IDF.
“Those documents dealt with the most vital issues in the defense and the military,” said the judge, who noted that Kamm’s home computer on which she had stored the documents was not secure and that it had been connected to the Internet without encryption.
The judges gave a sharp reminder to the court that the classified information Kamm passed to Blau could since have been transferred to other, unknown actors.
“It is impossible to know whether the intelligence [Kamm] gave away has found its way into the hands of foreign agents, hostile or not,” Ahituv said.
Though not all the details of the witness statements given at Kamm’s trial have been released for publication, in Sunday’s hearing the judges referred to testimony from a former IDF head of information security, who had told the court the documents Kamm stole and passed to Blau contained information relating to army operations that could cause “enormous potential harm” if it fell into enemy hands.
The same expert witness testified as to the danger of giving the documents to a journalist who was unaware of their specific context, and said that in the past Israeli journalists had cooperated with foreign reporters to publish classified material abroad, where it is not subject to Israeli censorship laws.
In her own testimony, some details of which were also included in Sunday’s sentencing hearing, Kamm described Naveh’s office as “embarrassing in terms of information security” and said she had not undergone any security check before being assigned to her army role, even though she had access to the most confidential documents.
The army declined to comment on Kamm’s sentence.
While Kamm’s trial is over, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has yet to decide whether to prosecute Blau.
The attorney-general held a hearing in May on the matter after the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office announced that there was sufficient evidence to indict Blau for unauthorized possession of classified documents.