The Justice Ministry announced on Wednesday that it is considering charging Haaretz journalist Uri Blau with holding classified information without authorization, and without intention to harm the security of the state.
The indictment is pending a hearing with the attorney general. The ministry said that although the clause of the law possibly violated refers to "aggravated espionage," Blau is not accused of espionage in the ordinary sense.
Haaretz responded in a statement that it received the ministry's announcement "with regret." It added: "We are confident the hearing will make it even clearer that throughout this affair, Uri Blau was doing nothing but his work as a journalist, and was acting according to the accepted norms in covering the defense establishment."
The ministry said that "once the investigation was completed, the attorney general accepted the general position of the state attorney, the Shin Bet and the police, and arrived at the conclusion that this case was unusual and extreme. Taken into consideration were the scope of the leak and the damage that it caused and could have caused, as well as Blau's own conduct throughout the affair."
Anat Kamm was charged in the affair for copying approximately 2,000 documents during her military service and making information available to Blau.
The Justice Ministry statement said there were several reasons behind a move to prosecute Blau: the quantity of the documents that he held, the unmonitored and unsecured manner in which he held them, his conduct vis-a-vis the authorities in the matter - "the fact he failed to return to Israel to be interrogated when asked to do so - and the claim that he "misled the authorities, making them believe the classified documents have been returned to the IDF."
The ministry alleged that Blau was originally requested to return the classified documents under a promise he would not be charged, not be asked about his sources and the documents would not be used as evidence against him. He then returned some 50 documents to the Shin Bet, creating, the ministry said, a false impression that he had returned all the classified documents in his possession. When the investigation of the leak found the number of documents given to him by Kamm amounted to 1,800, he was requested to return them all.
Blau had left Israel the month Kamm was arrested and decided to stay abroad.
He returned some documents through his attorneys, during his stay abroad, but, the ministry claimed, he still retained some documents.
He then agreed to give over to the state all classified documents in his possession, including ones he did not acquire through Kamm, with the state promising to evaluate the damage their leak has caused, but to destroy them without trying to trace Blau's sources.
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