The Prisons Service parole board will announce next week whether it will grant an early release for jailed former prime minister Ehud Olmert, the body said Sunday, after a hearing with the one-time premier.
Olmert, who is serving a 27-month sentence for various corruption convictions, is seeking to have a third of his sentence cut off.
The decision will be given on Thursday, June 29, the board said.
The announcement came days after the State Prosecutor’s Office asked police to open a criminal investigation into Olmert over his alleged divulging of sensitive information in the memoirs he is writing.
The state requested last week that Olmert’s hearing be postponed a second time to allow police to complete their inquiry, but was denied by a judge. On June 1, the state had won an initial postponement of the hearing, as it sought to submit classified materials to the parole board that would require the committee members to obtain appropriate security clearance.
Representatives of the State Prosecutor’s Office argued in the parole hearing Sunday that it would be inappropriate to consider an early release until the probe was completed and it was clear whether Olmert had engaged in illegal activity. Olmert’s lawyers pointed to their client’s “impeccable” record during his prison service to date and said the latest allegations do not constitute grounds to disregard his good behavior.
On Thursday, police raided the offices of the Yedioth Books publishing house in the central town of Rishon Lezion in a search for classified material that may have been provided by Olmert. They also raided the home of Yehuda Yaari, who is editing Olmert’s memoirs on behalf of the publisher.
“Olmert has been writing his book while incarcerated,” the state prosecution said in a statement Thursday. “Parts of the book deal with sensitive security issues. Recently, an incident took place in which one of Olmert’s lawyers was caught as he left the prison with a chapter of the book… The chapter includes, among other things, secret operational details that were not approved for publication in the past.”
Olmert has insisted he was not trying to skirt any laws.
“I have never been told that it is forbidden to transfer written material,” he said, according to Channel 2 news. “The lawyers are involved with my writing, and go over all the material.”
Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland real estate corruption case, which has been characterized as among the largest graft cases in Israel’s history.
In September 2016, he was sentenced to an additional eight months behind bars for the so-called Talansky affair. In that case, a court upheld a 2015 conviction over his accepting envelopes full of cash from American businessman and fundraiser Morris Talansky, in exchange for political favors during his decade-long term as mayor from 1993 to 2003.
The Prisons Service refitted a wing in the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle to house Olmert, the first former premier to serve jail time, keeping him in a separate complex shared only by carefully screened fellow convicts.
Olmert, who began serving his sentence in February 2016, is seeking early release. The law allows authorities to reduce sentences by a third for good behavior.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.