As Israeli journalists, we are all spies
Like my fellow military correspondents and analysts, I too have sinned and violated clause 112 of the law.
The attorney general can juggle his words as much as he likes, but the bottom line is that he decided to put Haaretz reporter Uri Blau on trial on charges of spying. And since Yehuda Weinstein knows very well that Blau is not a spy, we must ask what is behind his decision.
After all, to convict Blau of espionage, it will be necessary to prove that he is a spy, or at least,that he had the intention of spying. This, of course, will be difficult to prove, and that is the reason why, in the press release from the Justice Ministry, the state prosecution clarified that the crime of "espionage," in the accepted sense, was not being attributed to Blau. That is to say, the crime attributed to the journalist Blau is a crime in the unaccepted sense. What is the unaccepted sense? Weinstein has his answers. These word games will not hide the fact that the attorney general decided to play the role of emissary of the regime, and in particular of the defense establishment, in the ongoing war against freedom of the press. His decision proves that he does not see in this freedom a vital component of democracy in Israel.
Sources in the prosecution admit that indeed, the journalist is not a spy, but by the way they are acting they seem to be saying: "Uri Blau conducted himself in a way that does not seem acceptable to us and therefore we are bringing him to trial. Using the clause of the law that was meant originally to trap and punish real spies is within the realm of a necessity, since we did not find any other clause that makes possible the indictment of a journalist who carried out his job faithfully."
Weinstein will not hesitate to lend a hand to the cynical exploitation of the law to punish a journalist whose sole crime was to publish an article that revealed improper conduct on the part of senior officials in the defense establishment.
It is worth recalling that the entire affair began after Blau, basing himself on secret documents whose content was approved for publication by the censor, revealed that officers in the Israel Defense Forces Central Command headquarters had, on the face of it, violated the instructions of the High Court of Justice in carrying out targeted assassinations.
The response was not long in coming. Not, heaven forbid, an examination of the serious claims that appeared in the article, but rather a vigorous examination to find the source that leaked the information. Blau revealed the nakedness of senior officers and this is something they will not forgive.
The fact that Weinstein and his staff relied on the claim that Blau was holding "knowingly and in uncontrolled fashion, hundreds and thousands of operational documents including some classified as confidential and highly confidential," to put him on trial as a spy was, in the best case, deception.
Prosecution officials know very well that every military reporter has secret documents in his possession. There is no other way to seriously cover the defense establishment. But Weinstein does not begin to think of bringing to trial other journalists who commit such "espionage," only Blau. He violated the agreement with the Shin Bet security service and did not return all the documents, Weinstein claims. That is apparently correct, but what is the connection between this and the crime of aggravated espionage?
And apart from that, it is not at all clear that the Shin Bet itself did not violate the conditions of the agreement when, as it seems, it used the documents which Blau handed over to it to locate Anat Kamm even though it had promised not to do so.
Weinstein is invited to call all the military correspondents in for investigation, and when he finds that they have held onto secret documents, to put them all on trial for espionage. In this way, to the delight of the defense establishment, he will liquidate completely what is left of freedom of the press in the field of military reporting. I will volunteer to be the first: Weinstein, would you kindly submit an indictment against me for espionage?
Like my fellow military correspondents and analysts, I too have sinned and violated clause 112 of the law which states that "anyone who obtained, collected, prepared, wrote down or held onto a secret news item without being authorized to do so, is liable to seven years' imprisonment."