Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus was sentenced on Sunday to four months of community service for obstruction of justice and breach of public trust.
As part of a plea bargain, Ze’ev Ben Aryeh admitted passing classified Justice Ministry documents in 2008 to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), who was an MK at the time. The documents related to the ongoing investigation into Liberman for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribes from businessmen.
Ben Aryeh was Israel’s envoy to Belarus from 2004 to 2009, and as such he is believed by police to have had access to a 2008 Justice Ministry request via the Foreign Ministry for information from Belarus authorities connected to the Liberman investigation.
In October 2008 Liberman visited the embassy and met with Ben Aryeh, who has now admitted to passing on the information contained in the documents, including the complete list of police accusations against Liberman and a significant amount of the evidence that had been collected by that point. The Justice Ministry sought to investigate Belarusian bank accounts, most of which were registered with local companies.
Liberman has denied any wrongdoing.
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Hagit Mack-Kalmanovitz said upon passing sentence that Ben Aryeh’s fall from such an elevated position to such a low place represents a far more serious punishment than the court could have placed on him.
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.