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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Uri Blau to be charged with espionage

Uri Blau, the Haaretz reporter who received thousands of classified documents from former IDF soldier Anat Kam, and published many of them, is to be charged with aggravated espionage. After a plea bargain, Kam received a four-and-one-half-year jail term, whose length she is appealing. Blau had reached a plea bargain with the prosecutors, but they allege that he violated its terms. If convicted, Blau could face seven years in jail.
Blau will be charged under the Penal Code with aggravated espionage, which stipulates that if a person obtained, collected, prepared, recorded or kept secret information without authorization, but without intent to harm state security, he will face a maximum seven years in prison.

Significantly, Blau will not be charged with intending to harm state security, which attracts a maximum 15 year prison term.

The district attorney also emphasized that while the offense with which Blau will be charged under the Penal Code is "aggravated espionage", the indictment will not attribute to Blau the offense of "espionage" as it is usually understood.
The prosecutors could have gone further.

UPDATE 3:12 PM

YNet reports that Blau violated his agreement by not returning all of the documents in his possession.
Some two months ago, the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor's Office said it was withdrawing its agreement with the journalist. It claimed that Blau had falsely made it appear as though he returned all of the classified documents that had been in his possession. Blau had previously handed over some 50 documents he had received from Anat Kam to the Shin Bet.

The prosecution further stated that the State had provided Blau with the necessary sum needed for a new computer after it had destroyed his PC. "Blau had blatantly broken the agreement signed with him, allegedly lied to investigators and handed over only a small part of the stolen military information he had obtained.

Blau, a journalist with Haaretz, returned to Israel after a long period abroad following an agreement with the State Prosecutor's Office. He said he had turned over all of the documents he received from Kam to the State and had pledged to forward any secret document he had otherwise obtained over the years.

According to the agreement, the authorities would shred the documents without checking the source. Blau also committed to being investigated by the Shin Bet and police and declared he was no longer in possession of any of the documents. As part of the agreement the journalist also pledged to undergo a lie detector test.
I don't know why the government agreed to a ridiculous deal where they would shred all the documents without checking their source. Maybe that's why they are charging Blau with a lot less than he deserves.

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