Haaretz writer Uri Blau returns to Israel for questioning by Shin Bet
Blau had been on vacation when he learned that the state might press charges against him for publishing classified materials he received from former soldier Anat Kamm.
Haaretz journalist Uri Blau returned to Israel yesterday after nearly a year abroad, and will be questioned under caution by both the Shin Bet and the police within 48 hours, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
Blau had been on vacation when he learned that the state might press charges against him for publishing classified materials he received from former soldier Anat Kamm, and he decided to delay his return as a result.
He had been in London and Berlin.
The results of the interrogation will be presented to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who will decide whether Blau will face criminal charges.
He used the documents to write articles for Haaretz, which were published after receiving approval from the censor. The documents included orders by then-GOC Central Command Yair Naveh instructing soldiers to carry out a targeted assassination in violation of a Supreme Court verdict.
Blau said he no longer has any documents from Kamm, in any format, the Justice Ministry said. He also agreed to undergo a polygraph test.
The decision on charges will be made by Weinstein "because of the matter's sensitivity, because it concerns a journalist who claims to be holding classified material as part of an established practice, and because the earlier agreement with Blau was based on an opinion by the attorney general's predecessor," the Justice Ministry statement said.
Blau's interrogation will continue as long as is necessary, the statement said.
When the article about the assassination was published, the state asked Blau to return the original documents. Blau obliged, after officials promised they would not be used as part of a criminal investigation against him or his source.
Following a Shin Bet investigation, however, Kamm admitted to have been the source, and said she took more than 2,000 classified documents during her army service. She gave most of them to Blau.
Kamm was charged with possession and transfer of classified information with the intent to harm state security, a crime considered grave espionage and punishable by life in prison.
Following the investigation, the Israeli authorities decided to question Blau once again. He remained abroad, however, negotiating with the authorities and trying to ensure he would not be prosecuted should he return.
Under the negotiations, and after Kamm waived her immunity as a journalistic source, Blau gave the state 1,500 documents he received from Kamm.
The Justice Department statement said the agreement was struck given "the desire to ensure the security of the state, and to allow the journalist to retain the privilege of his sources."
After being told that Blau had not been arrested upon landing, Kamm's attorney Eytan Lehman said yesterday, "I'm glad reason has returned, and I hope reason will be applied to Kamm's case as well. It's inconceivable that she's been under house arrest for a year now, while everyone understands this doesn't make any sense."
He added, "I hope that just as they took into account that Blau is a journalist, they'll take into account that Kamm is a source. Both of them clearly did not want to hurt state security, and did want to expose atrocities," Lehman said. "We'll be glad if no charges are pressed against Mr. Blau."