Law enforcement officials decided to open a preliminary investigation into jailed former prime minister Ehud Olmert after his attorney was found with classified materials following a visit to him, Channel 2 reported Thursday.
The findings of the preliminary investigation will be presented to police and the Shin Bet security service and a decision will then be taken on whether to open a criminal investigation into Olmert.
On May 18, one of Olmert’s attorneys was caught by prison officers with classified material belonging to the former prime minister after a visit to his jail cell. During a search of his cell, security officers also found other classified documents.
The lawyer was allegedly carrying two chapters from Olmert’s memoirs, which he is writing while incarcerated. According to Channel 2 the chapters relate to the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007.
Olmert is the only person involved who didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement about the alleged bombing, because he was prime minister at the time.
On his most recent furlough, Olmert met with the chief censor. Sources close to Olmert say that the two chapters were approved by the state censor two months ago, and therefore they say there is no basis for a criminal investigation.
Israel never officially confirmed that it was responsible for the attack and Israeli media was banned from reporting on the strike on the Deir Ezzor region of Syria. However, Olmert said shortly after the incident that, “The security services and Israeli defense forces are demonstrating unusual courage. We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”
Channel 2 also reported Thursday that authorities found a document in Olmert’s cell which was from then-cabinet secretary Israel Maimon informing Olmert that former prime minister Ariel Sharon had suffered an incapacitating stroke and that Olmert was now the acting prime minister. This document was previously publicized on Channel 2.
Also on Thursday, the State Prosecutor’s Office asked to postpone a hearing scheduled for next Wednesday into shortening the former premier’s sentence.
The request came because the State Attorney’s Office wants to submit classified materials to the parole board, which will require the members of the committee to obtain an appropriate security clearance.
The former prime minister, who is serving a 27-month jail sentence on various corruption charges, has been writing a memoir in his cell. Since, as prime minister, he was privy to the Jewish state’s most closely guarded secrets, prison authorities have required he transfer all written materials to censors before handing them over to his publisher.
Olmert has insisted he was not trying to skirt any laws.
“I have never been told that it is forbidden to transfer written materials,” he said, according to Channel 2 news. “The lawyers are involved with my writing, go over all the material.”
Olmert began serving his sentence at Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle in February 2016, and is now seeking early release. The law allows authorities to reduce sentences by a third for good behavior.