Channel 2 Fights Demand to Hand Over Material on Trojan Horse Suspects

The Tel Aviv fraud squad and the Tel Aviv district attorney are demanding the Channel 2 television program "Fact" hand over to police the raw materials from the interview broadcast last night with Michael Ha'efrati and Ruth Brier-Ha'efrati, the couple suspected of developing and marketing the Trojan Horse program planted in the computers of dozens of Israeli companies.

Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court granted the request, but delayed its implementation pending an appeal filed on the program's behalf by its franchisee broadcaster Keshet. The hearing is set for this morning.

The request is unusual, since it means revealing things the couple said off the record during a press interview. This was the couple's first interview and it was conducted by telephone from Britain, where they are in prison awaiting extradition to Israel next week.

The program's editor Doron Galezer said: "We object to handing over the raw materials because they involve off-the-record conversations that also concerned private and family matters."

Galezer added that the request contradicts the basic principles of a free press and rules of journalistic ethics, such as reporter-source confidentiality and protecting an individual's right to privacy.

"Journalists' right to maintain the confidentiality of their sources and the confidentiality of things said to them 'off the record' must be respected and safeguarded," said Paz Mozer, lawyer for "Fact."

Doing otherwise, Mozer warned, would result in far-reaching damage to freedom of speech. "A person who talks to a journalist 'off the record' must be certain his words will remain between him and the journalist," Mozer added.

In the interview broadcast last night, the Ha'efratis exposed the security and commercial entities that sought to buy their program, sometimes through private investigators. The couple said their representatives had met with an officer from Unit 8200, the Israel Defense Forces' classified signals intelligence unit, and with a representative for Yehiel Horev, who is in charge of security within the Defense Ministry.