Haaretz reporter Uri Blau to be indicted for possessing classified documents

Real liberals love Israel

Israeli freedom of the press

An offshoot of the Anat Kam affair was the case of Haaretz journalist Uri Blau, to whom Anat Kam passed classified documents that she illegally purloined from the IDF general’s office where she was serving during her IDF service.  When the IDF demanded that Blau return the documents, he fled to London, eventually returning only after negotiating a deal with the Shin Bet (Internal Security Agency).

It has now turned out that Blau violated the terms of his deal, and didn’t return all of the documents that were in his possession. The State is therefore going to indict him for illegal possession of classified documents.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has announced the State has decided to indict Haaretz journalist Uri Blau. The reporter is to be charged with unauthorized possession of classified documents, Weinstein said in a statement released Wednesday.

He added that he would not accuse the journalist of the more serious offense of traditional espionage. In his statement, Weinstein told reporters he had decided to reject the journalist’s arguments after weighing all factors involved.

The case involves classified documents that Blau received from then-IDF soldier Anat Kam, who is currently serving a prison term of 4.5 years for stealing the classified information and passing it on to unauthorized individuals.

[...]

Blau returned about 50 of the documents to the Shabak he received from Anat Kam. However, authorities subsequently realized that not all of the documents had been returned, while the State had meanwhile reimbursed Blau for his computer that was destroyed during the course of the investigation.

“Blau blatantly broke the agreement he signed, allegedly lied to investigators and handed over only a small part of the stolen military information he received,” the statement said.

Haaretz typically came to the defense of its reporter, aided and abetted by the leftist former Supreme Court Judge Dalia Dorner together with several Israeli military reporters:

Following Weinstein’s announcement yesterday, Haaretz issued a reaction calling the decision “regrettable” and “precedent-setting with implications on freedom of the press in Israel, particularly on the ability to cover the defense establishment.” For his part, Blau said, “In everything I did, I acted in fulfillment of my journalistic mission.”

This is double-speak at its finest.  For Haaretz to accuse the establishment of limiting freedom of the press, when Haaretz itself is such a fierce critic of almost every decision of the government, is blatantly hypocritical. Freedom of the press does not include stealing documents, and certainly not classified documents which could damage state security.

Weinstein’s statement said the attorney general came to the conclusion that in light of the nature and quantity of the documents, Blau’s possession of them had no connection to their use in good faith news reporting.

Well said Mr. Weinstein. I’m glad someone has Israel’s real interests at heart.

The head of the Israel Press Council, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, said the council had, on previous occasions, found it inappropriate for the state to file charges against a journalist who was in possession of secret documents as part of his or her work.

“The attorney general has to exercise judgment, and I regret the decision that has been taken,” she said. “Many journalists that deal with these issues possess these kinds of documents, and this kind of a decision has a chilling effect. We had hoped that the authorities would seriously consider the severe harm that such a decision inflicts on freedom of the press.”

Again we have vague accusations of harming freedom of the press, silencing opinions etc. I would have hoped that a senior judge like Dorner would have more common sense and a great deal more patriotism.  I must admit that although I am jaded about many of our leftist elites, I am still shocked at her statement.

The Haaretz article goes on to quote a gaggle of military journalists who all spout the same nonsense about freedom of the press. I wonder if they would be so blasé about publicizing secrets if it was their own personal secrets that had been stolen and then published nationwide. I doubt it.  I also wonder if they would be so adamant about freedom of the press if it was a right-wing journalist, say from Arutz Sheva, who stole military documents, illegally held on to them, and then publicised them on Arutz Sheva or Makor Rishon.

Even MKs joined in the pile-on:

Kadima MK Nachman Shai, who is a journalist by profession, said Weinstein’s decision was liable to strike fear among Israel’s media outlets and prevent them from fully doing their job.

There was at least one “tzaddik beSdom” (lone righteous man) thankfully:

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima ), however, praised Weinstein’s decision, saying that, “through his actions, Blau endangered Israel’s security not less, and perhaps even more, than the actions of Anat Kamm.”

Heaven help us (literally) if these judges and journalists are representative of Israel’s cultural elite.

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10 Responses to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau to be indicted for possessing classified documents

  1. reality says:

    only when it comes to books or articles like Torat hamlachim can you rely on the establishment to go beserk. Whenn its the lefts’ own then of course it was jsut an innocent article! As if !-he should be punished likeanyone else who does treason & then perhaps other “do gooders’ will think twice.

  2. Rob Harris says:

    “Freedom of the press does not include stealing documents, and certainly not classified documents which could damage state security.” – these leftist journalists at Haaretz seem to think they are a law onto themselves. Haaretz (as an “Israeli Newspaper”) has been a marvellous tool for the full scale delegitimisation of Israel. CAMERA noted how they constantly misrepresent stories in the English edition that are accurately reported in their much lesser read Hebrew edition, thus they knowingly lie.

    This guy already committed a form of treason, he flees, and is given by all accounts a good deal, especially when he could have copied the documents already. Then he only hands back a small number of the documents!! Quite frankly he should be indicted for treason, and given ten years at a minimum.

    • anneinpt says:

      Haaretz (as an “Israeli Newspaper”) has been a marvellous tool for the full scale delegitimisation of Israel. CAMERA noted how they constantly misrepresent stories in the English edition that are accurately reported in their much lesser read Hebrew edition, thus they knowingly lie.

      Last year I went to an Honest Reporting conference, and one of the speakers (I can’t recall which one) said that the most dangerous media outlet for Israel is Haaretz because they lend legitimacy to anti-Israel sentiments under the cover of being Israeli themselves. And indeed, if you ever check out any anti-Israel or anti-Zionist organization, they constantly quote Haaretz to prove their points.

      Quite frankly he should be indicted for treason, and given ten years at a minimum.

      Precisely. Except the Israeli reporters unions are all decrying his indictment. I simply cannot understand them. I wouldn’t call most of them anti-Zionist in any way. I’m sure they are all patriotic. So why this ridiculous mistaken siding with a traitor? It’s incomprehensible to me.

  3. Martha says:

    Perhaps Uri Blau is not a traitor at all – he used the documents to show that the IDF acted in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling. Perhaps Mr. Blau’s patriotism was to the court above the military. In any case, defending the rights of journalists to do their jobs properly (which means having classified documents, and sometimes refusing to give them up) is patriotic because it’s good for the country in the long run.

    • anneinpt says:

      Uri Blau accepted the documents knowing that they were stolen. No matter for what purpose he used them, he broke the law. No one is above the law, not even journalists.

      Journalists are not allowed to be in possession of classified documents any more than any other citizen. He was given an unprecedented deal – to avoid punishment by returning the documents. Even that deal was too much for him and he didn’t return all the documents. He has no excuse.

      Journalists do not have to steal classified documents to do their job properly. It is not patriotic or good for the country in the long run to have state secrets stolen and publicized. Please don’t let journalists decide what is good for the country. We have politicians and regular and free elections for that. Journalists are not above the law.

      If you disagree with a country’s policies, you can apply for information under the Freedom of Information act, or just try and get a quote from an unofficial leak by a senior officer or politician. But stealing is a crime. And publishing state secrets is treason.

  4. Rob Harris says:

    Hi Martha,

    I agree that it is important for the health of any country to have a free press but Israel has that as far as I can see. If anything the media is harming Israel to a very real extent. If that isn’t a test for freedom then I don’t know what is.

    It is important to note that any nation facing serious conflict has to tread a fine line between freedom of the press and security, ensuring the safety of its people. Israel (like any country facing similar circumstances) has to treat the theft of secret files with the utmost seriousness, even if it can be morally justified in some circumstances.

    I don’t have much sympathy for Uri Blau because he fled (implying guilt) and then made a deal which he broke in a very extravagant way. A deal he entered into freely. It suggests a contempt on his part for the very state that affords him, his friends and family protection. He ought not have greater rights than any other citizen of this society.

    As is often the case, journalists do not have any real moral imperative. Why should they get to choose right and wrong outside the law? If Blau wished to act in the interests of justice like any citizen, he could have acted without doing harm to Israel itself by presenting the papers via affidavit. However, he can profit from them in his profession.

    Thus the issue is a complex philosophical discussion over rights and entitlements. Firstly, it is hard to justify why exceptions should be made for one profession, as with journalists. If exceptions are to be made, then with further freedoms comes additional responsibilities. Thus, journalists have a responsibility not to do undue harm to the society in which the function. If they function to an extent outside that society’s rules, then like anthropologists they ought not cause undue harm. However, at Haaretz journalists appeal to a readership seeking the defamation of Israel.

    • anneinpt says:

      Rob, I love your comment! Thank you! You’ve expressed exactly what I feel but in a much more eloquent way. And you stayed civil too, something I find hard to do sometimes.:-)

  5. Rob Harris says:

    Thanks very much for saying so Anne. Just to elaborate on my point about media ethics, even though journalists are not understood to be above the law, there are some who invoke concepts like journalistic privilege so as not to follow the letter of the law when there are contested legal issues. We have seen it in various parts of the Western world. Some journalists seem willing to go to prison rather than reveal their sources. For a similar reason Uri ought to have been prepared for the same, rather than cry like a baby, particularly so when he was handling secret stolen material, that was treasonous in nature.

    If we are to accept the broad notion, as in Uri Blau’s case, that journalists have certain privilages, then the matter is one of rights and responsibilities. There are rules in the media about treating individuals fairly because those in journalism have certain powers. There are also laws protecting individuals and organisations against libel (and slander). Some countries have stronger libel laws, and the argument (in Ireland for example) is that they should be weaker to ensure a freedom of the press. Fair enough, especially if there is a robust regulation of the press when it steps out of line. If the press is given more freedom, it requires an act of good faith that it will act responsibly. If it doesn’t the state will intervene.

    Some laws in a given state also apply to its own protection, just as that of the individual, groups, and organisations. A given state’s protection is especially crucial in a time of conflict of course, since propaganda is a recognised form of conflict. Therefore there is no reason why there shouldn’t be similar rules about treating other entities, including a given society, in which said individuals live, correctly as well. However, as we have seen, Haaretz behaves in an abusive fashion toward the unfortunate society that provides it with various supports. For Blau to have repeatedly given the State a two fingered salute illustrates his contempt, suggesting his actions were not driven by a sense of right.

  6. Pingback: The Witch-Hunters of the Israeli Left » Choosing Life - God's Gift To The Unborn

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