Journalist to face charges for possession of secret military documents

Haaretz reporter Uri Blau wrote articles based on material stolen and leaked to him by ex-soldier Anat Kamm

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Journalist Uri Blau charged with holding classified material that threatened state security. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Journalist Uri Blau charged with holding classified material that threatened state security. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

The state prosecution announced Wednesday it would charge an Israeli journalist with unauthorized possession of state secrets — top secret military documents that were leaked to him by an ex-soldier who stole them during her army service and is now in jail.

In a press release, the Justice Ministry said it rejected the defense arguments by Haaretz reporter Uri Blau, who stored thousands of classified documents about military operations he received from Anat Kamm. Blau published details about targeted killings from some of the documents in 2008. An investigation led to the arrests of Kamm and Blau.

The Justice Ministry stressed that although the charge is one of spying, Blau is accused only of being in possession of secret material without intention to harm the state. Citing considerations of freedom of the press, balanced against the advice of the Prison Service and the police who noted the extreme nature of Blau’s activities, the Attorney-General’s Office said it had decided to press charges.

The press release noted that the content of the material that Blau held had the potential to cause “enormous” damage to the state or endanger the lives of soldiers, had it fallen into enemy hands.

Haaretz’s editorial board said in response that the decision to prosecute Blau would hamper freedom of the press, especially that of journalists covering the defense establishment, in an “unfortunate and unprecedented” manner.

During her army service in 2006, Kamm served as an assistant in the office of the then commander of Israel’s Central Command, Major General Yair Naveh. Kamm copied thousands of classified documents from his office and then passed them on to Blau after she had left the IDF.

In 2008 Blau published details from the documents in a series of articles that led investigators to Kamm’s door, and in 2010 she was arrested for espionage. In February 2011 Kamm entered into a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to leaking state secrets in return for not being charged with damaging national security. In October 2011 she was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and 18 months’ probation.

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