State Closes Case Against Former PM Olmert Over Suspicions of Passing on Classified Info

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File: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks to the media after a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem December 29, 2015.
File: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks to the media after a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem December 29, 2015. Credit: רויטרס

The case against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on suspicion of conveying classified materials to unauthorized persons will be closed, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan announced Tuesday. Olmert was suspected of passing on sensitive security information while writing a book while he was in prison.

In June, Nitzan announced that new criminal suspicions against Olmert, who was serving a prison term for corruption, were to be explored. The suspicions were raised following a report by the Israel Prison Service that Olmert had given a chapter from his book to his attorney, Hanina Brandes, during a prison visit. The chapter included classified material that was allegedly not to be shared with unauthorized persons.

The State Prosecution said at the time that the materials found in the possession of Olmert and his attorney dealt with a security incident that the military censor had banned from publication. The prosecution said the material included secret operational details and that Olmert had been warned in the past not to give material to unauthorized individuals outside the prison.

The prosecution claimed that Olmert had given to his publisher and others “who are not authorized to see state secrets, chapters from the manuscript of his book including material found in the possession of attorney Brandes.” The prosecution said that material from another chapter that Olmert had given to Brandes during a visit included “information that could have seriously harmed state security.” The prosecution noted that as a rule, attorneys’ papers are not examined either on entering or exiting the prison.

During examination of the allegations, the chief military censor testified that she had examined the two chapters and decided to ban their publication.

In Nitzan’s statement Tuesday, he said that the material was very sensitive and could be harmful to state security and involved “operational capabilities actions of special units.” However, Nitzan said he had decided to close the case because he took into consideration that Olmert had given the classified material to his publishers and they had been in contact with the censorship authorities and acted according to their directives. He said he also took into consideration the finding of the parole board that “treatment by the authorities of the issue of protection of the classified materials Olmert wrote was not optimal.”

In his statement Nitzan also noted past incidents in which politicians passed on secret information to unauthorized persons while writing books, but were not investigated on criminal suspicions, citing former Prime Minister Ehud Barak as an example.