Ex-soldier Charged With Espionage for Leaking Documents to Haaretz

An indictment for aggravated espionage has been filed against 23-year-old Anat Kam for allegedly appropriating top secret documents during her military service and then passing them to a Haaretz reporter. Kam, who completed her army service in the bureau of then-GOC Central Command Yair Naveh, has been under house arrest at her Tel Aviv home for four months. Yesterday the Tel Aviv District Court partially lifted the gag order on the case, which since mid-March had already received broad coverage in the foreign press.

Among the materials Kam allegedly transferred to the reporter, Uri Blau, were files showing that high-ranking Israel Defense Forces officers had approved targeted assassinations of wanted Palestinians who could have instead been detained - authorization that violates a High Court ruling against such actions. The material gathered in these documents allegedly formed the basis for an article Blau published in Haaretz Magazine November 2008.

Kam is alleged to have appropriated more than 2,000 classified files from the IDF, and the state claims she has already confessed to most of the charges leveled against her. Kam is currently on unpaid leave as a writer for the Walla! Web site.

Kam faces two counts of aggravated espionage - one for the passing of classified material with the intent to harm national security, a charge typically carrying a life sentence; the other for gathering and possessing secret information with the intent to harm national security, a charge carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years.

Between August 2005 and June 2007, Kam served in Naveh's office. From April 2006 on, she served as assistant to Naveh's bureau chief, a post that apparently exposed her to classified documents drafted in various General Staff departments, the Chief of Staff's bureau and Central Command divisional headquarters. The files allegedly included operational plans, meeting memoranda, troop deployments, research studies, target lists and more.

The suspect is accused of gathering the files and presentations in a special computer folder and in May 2007, shortly before her release from the army, copied their contents onto two disks - one for presentations and the other for documents. She allegedly brought home the disk containing the documents, 700 of them classified as "secret" or "top secret," and in June 2007 copied them onto her home computer.

In the summer of 2008, the indictment states, Kam offered to share the documents with Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Yossi Yehoshua, but for unspecified reasons the transfer was never made. In September of that year, Kam allegedly transferred the files to Blau, and later spoke with him several times to clarify details, such as codenames for operations and targets. The state claims that from November 2008 on, Blau used the information to write several articles for Haaretz. Blau is currently in London.

The State Prosecutor's Office maintains that attorneys representing Blau and Haaretz reached an agreement with the state obligating the reporter to return the documents in question to authorities. In return, the state agreed not to question Blau or ask him to reveal his sources. Authorities claim that after Kam's interrogation, they learned the reporter had not handed over all of the classified documents in his possession, and that the investigation to try to locate them is ongoing.

Upon filing the indictment, the state also requested to detain Kam until the end of legal proceedings. Instead, Judge Zeev Hammer ruled that Kam would be held under house arrest, but acceded to the request that all details related to the case remain under gag order - including the indictment itself and Kam's house arrest.

In January, Haaretz and Channel 10 television filed a request through attorney Tali Lieblich to lift the gag order. A number of hearings have been held on the request, and a final ruling is scheduled for April 12.

An indictment hearing against Kam was scheduled for April 14. Until now, however - four months after the indictment was filed - Kam's attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Eitan Lehman said they have not been provided with the investigative material compiled against her. They filed a request along with the state prosecutor to defer the hearing by several weeks. A new date has yet to be set.

Kam's attorneys maintain that she did not damage national security, and noted that Blau's reports were all approved by the military censor.

A spokesperson for the court system released the following statement yesterday: "The purpose of the court is to strike a balance between a request to impose a gag order and the principles that could be harmed by such an order, one based on our professional, objective judgment. Reports stating that courts serve as mere rubber stamps for law enforcement authorities on imposing media blackouts portray a skewed, one-sided view and testify to a lack of information or understanding of the considerations before the court."