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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Journalists group calls on AG to drop 'espionage' charges against Haaretz reporter

An international journalists group has written a letter to attorney general Yehuda Weinstein urging him to drop espionage charges for wrongfully possessing classified documents against Haaretz reporter Uri Blau.
Blau, who published excerpts from a cache of classified military documents, was charged last month with aggravated espionage for his alleged unauthorized possession of classified materials and, if convicted, could face a seven-year prison sentence.

In the letter to Weinstein, the journalists – all of whom are executive board members of the International Press Institute (IPI) – called on the attorney-general to drop all criminal charges against Blau, pointing out “it is inevitable that journalists covering military and political affairs around the world will end up possessing secret documents.”

“It is vital for any democratic system that they not be prosecuted for this, in particular if, as in the case of Uri Blau, the documents are used solely to serve a strong public interest,” said the letter, which was signed by 21 journalists from some 14 countries.

“As members of the world’s oldest global press freedom organization, grouping publishers, editors and journalists from around the world, we believe that the prosecution of Uri Blau for possession of classified documents will set a grave precedent for the future of Israeli journalism, especially investigative reporting,” said the letter.
They're right. The crime here wasn't that he possessed the documents, but that he published them. That's a more serious charge? So be it.

While it may be inevitable that journalists come into possession of classified documents during the course of their work, that doesn't give them the right to publish those documents with the knowledge that (a) they were classified and (b) they were stolen from the IDF. If Blau had gone and returned the documents to the IDF - even if he did not disclose his source - he would not have merited punishment. But the fact that he knowingly published stolen, classified documents (to further his, his newspaper's and the thief's political agenda) is something that a democracy cannot ignore or leave unanswered.

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At 12:21 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I believe he also lied about the documents he had and only returned a fraction of the documents in his possession. It must be nice to conflate a free press with license to lie, cheat and steal.


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