Defense attorneys for Anat Kam, who is suspected of passing on secret documents to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau, have already began negotiating with the prosecution for a plea bargain, Haaretz has learned.

The state has decided to prosecute Kam for the most serious crimes of espionage: passing on classified information with the intent of harming state security.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Kam faces other charges, including gathering and possessing classified materials with intent to harm state security, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Israel's criminal code contains a number of other statutes that Kam could have been charged with violating for her alleged actions, that carry significantly less harsh punishments than the ones she has been charged with.

In their negotiations with the state, Kam's attorneys, Avigdor Feldman and Eitan Lehman, will seek to plead down the charges against their client.

One of the main arguments made by Feldman and Lehman is that by passing on the information to Blau, an Israeli journalist bound by Israeli military censorship, Kam demonstrated that she did not intend to harm state security.

The lawyers say that had Kam sought to damage Israeli she would have made the material available to hostile elements.

Israel's penal code includes a law against passing secret information to an unauthorized person, without attributing to that person intent to harm state security. It carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

Furthermore, for someone who is not authorized to hold official documents or use them in an unauthorized manner, the maximum sentence is five years.

A civil servant who gives out, without approval, information received in connection with his job to a person unauthorized to receive such information, even after he has stopped being a civil servant, is subject to serve no more than three years in prison.

For possessing information - as opposed to passing it on - that a civil servant is not authorized to have, the sentence is up to one year.

The law also states that a person receiving a secret document on condition that he must keep it secret, who passes it on to a person who is not authorized to receive it, can serve up to a year in prison if convicted.

The justice minister refused to comment on discussions held with defense attorneys, and would not confirm or deny this report.