Anat Kam, the journalist and ex-Israeli soldier suspected of "serious espionage" for allegedly giving classified information to a reporter from Haaretz regarding the IDF's rules of engagement is being made a scapegoat, her defense attorney told Army Radio Thursday.
"Where's the intent to undermine state security? The fact that she handed the information over to a journalist for him to publish?," Avidgor Feldman told Army Radio.
"If she had been really interested to undermine state security, there would have been no shortage in hands and ears willing to accept that material and use to hurt the state," Feldman said, adding that he felt "someone just said to himself 'let's find a scapegoat.'"
The affair, which has been circulating media worldwide over the last few weeks, was under a strict gag order in Israel, preventing any Israeli media from reporting on the case.
(Click here to read the original article by Haaretz reporter Uri Blau)
Kam, 23, is accused of appropriating 2,000 documents, 700 of which were classified as "top secret" while serving in the IDF's Central Command in 2007. After her army service, Kam went on to work for the Walla news agency.
"She's an Israeli, she's a Zionist - she's even opposed to the refusal of orders," a representative of Kam said Thursday, after the gag order was lifted. Kam had "no intention of harming the security of Israel," he added. "This is a dangerous precedent."
Haaretz is currently negotiating with the legal authorities for the return of the reporter in question, Uri Blau, who is presently in London.
In a rare media briefing on Thursday, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said that Blau was currently wanted by both the security service and Israel Police for questioning.
According to an agreement reached in September 2009 by the Shin Bet and Haaretz's lawyer, Mibi Mozer, Blau was to return to the security services some 50 classified documents still in his possession. But the Shin Bet believes Blau is still holding a nymber of secret documents that he received from Kam.
"Our main goal is to see those classified documents returned so that they do not fall into hostile hands," said Diskin. "It is the dream of all our enemy states to get their hands on these kinds of documents."
"We see this is a very serious matter in terms of the potential security damages it could save caused," added Diskin. "This affair is not yet over. We are looking for the documents and waiting for them to return to the country, so that the damage cannot be caused."
Haaretz learned Monday that Israel's defense establishment decided to withdraw its support of a months-long blanket gag order on the security-related affair.
Diskin told reporters on Thursday that he had agreed to a partial lifting on the gag order after Mozer rejected an offer for another arrangement between Blau and the security services.
The names of those parties involved in the case and the charges leveled against them were thus released in Israel for the first time on Thursday.
After the details were exposed, one of Kam's lawyers, Eitan Lehman, said Thursday that "some unusual mistakes were made in this case, including the unclear, careless, and lazy investigation which aimed at the wrong places, such as imposing a blanket gag-order."
"At no time did her actions harm Israel's security and there was certainly no intent to do the country any damage," Lehman said, adding that "the published documents were all authorized by the IDF censor, proving that publishing them did not endanger the state's security."
"The real story is that the documents were exposed, unmonitored, and available to hundreds of people in the IDF, including low ranking members," he said, adding that "Anat is not affiliated with any extreme political groups in Israel, and she is not one of those who attempt to hitch a ride on her back. She is a mainstream, Zionist, Israeli girl, the salt of the earth." Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and the State Prosecutor's Office filed an appeal with the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday, in which they requested the partial removal of the gag order. It has been in place for the last three and a half months.
Despite the court-imposed gag order, Israeli blogs and Web sites, along with foreign media outlets not subject to Israeli law, have been discussing the affair in detail over the past several weeks.
The reversal in the position reportedly came about after messages from the Supreme Court were sent to the State Prosecutor's Office and the presiding judge, Ze'ev Hammer, allegedly hinting at the peculiar situation created, in which Israeli media was banned from publishing the story while worldwide outlets already released most of its details.
Col. Sima Vaknin-Gil, the chief military censor, commented on the situation during an interview with Haaretz on Monday. "I think when the coverage began abroad ... especially with the comprehensive aspects connected to Israel's image, it would have been right to consider lifting the order, at least partially," she said.
Sometimes, she continued, "when there is a gag order, the censor is even barred from expressing its professional opinion and has to wait like everyone else for the order to be lifted - usually at the initiative of the media or the body that issued the order.
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