Israeli Court Rejects Journalist's Request to Return Documents Police Seized

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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An installation outside Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem calling for an investigation into the 'submarine affair,' July 20, 2020.
An installation outside Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem calling for an investigation into the 'submarine affair,' July 20, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

A court in Rishon Letzion rejected on Tuesday a request by Lior Kopelevitz, the independent journalist dubbed “Eishton,” to return documents seized from him by police in an investigation into alleged harassment of a witness in the submarine affair.

Kopelevitz said in magistrate’s court that anyone looking at the papers could damage his immunity as a journalist and reveal sources. The judge, Einat Ron, said “a journalist has the right to immunity when it comes to sources but doesn’t enjoy any immunity with regard to violating the law.” Kopelevitz said he was asked about his political views while under questioning.

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Kopelevitz was released from custody under limitations on Monday after being arrested for harassing a former treasury accountant general, Michal Abadi-Boiangiu, who testified to police on the submarines affair. He had allegedly harassed her by going to her home and posing as a member of the Mossad. She said he presented a forged article about the natural gas deal and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, supposedly written by Haaretz journalists Gidi Weitz and Gur Megiddo, and asked her some questions. Police said Kopelevitz was armed with a toy gun, followed her and handled her vehicle in her building’s parking lot.

Koplelevitz’s attorney Gonen Ben-Yitzhak said after the decision that he would appeal it in district court.

Kopelevitz says he was asked under interrogation if he opposes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whether he’s a political activist and on whose behalf, whether he was working against Netanyahu and whether or not someone was operating him or whether he was operating on behalf of one of the parties that ran in the last election.

“I felt as if I was being interrogated by Yair Netanyahu,” he told Haaretz.

Kopelevitz was questioned for 14 hours at the national police headquarters on Monday. “This is a unit that is supposed to be investigating Case 3000 [the submarines affair] and recently senior members of the security establishment said police were not investigating it seriously,” he said. “But the moment they found out I was looking into the case suddenly they woke up and asked someone who was investigating. They gathered the evidence that they were supposed to be gathering on the public’s behalf, and now they are trying to bury it. Anyone who knows me knows I work on my own and nobody pays me for it. They asked a lot about my political positions and those of my partner. This investigation is political and any information they got from me was received due to an illegal warrant.”

Kopelevitz upheld his right to remain silent for most questions.

Police said in response: “The Israel Police carries out its duties to enforce the law and investigate anyone suspected of a crime and that is what is being done in this case. We stress that the investigation is being conducted fairly by a trained and professional team of investigators, with the aim of investigating the truth.”

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