Olmert Demands Probe After Double-billing Leaks to Haaretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is demanding a probe into media leaks about his police investigation, after an article in last week's Haaretz Magazine gave details about various flights for which he allegedly double-billed.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has tentatively decided to indict Olmert in the double-billing case, pending the outcome of a hearing in April. Olmert is suspected of charging several different nonprofit organizations for the same flights abroad and using the surplus to finance personal flights for himself and his family.

The Haaretz article revealed details from a chart kept by Olmert's travel planner, Rachel Risby-Raz, in which she recorded exactly how much was received from each organization for each flight in 2003-05, along with the profit accrued.

In a letter to Mazuz this past Wednesday, Olmert's attorney, Eli Zohar, demanded an investigation into who leaked this information to Haaretz. The article, he wrote, "is based entirely on material from the case file and includes exact quotes of testimony taken during the investigation."

If Mazuz declines to order a probe, the letter continued, Olmert will consider petitioning the High Court of Justice.

"We view the leaks from the investigation as very serious - especially after you yourself said that leaking material from an investigation is a criminal offense in every respect," Zohar wrote. "It is impossible to accept this unacceptable phenomenon of leaks of investigative material whose sole purpose is to present a partial, distorted and misleading picture - especially when we are talking about investigations against a prime minister, from which leaks have become an intolerable routine."

14th questioning

Noting that Mazuz had refused previous requests to investigate leaks from the various probes against Olmert, Zohar added: "Unfortunately, your decision not to open an investigation signaled to the leakers that there is no judge and no justice, and that from the Justice Ministry's standpoint, there is nothing wrong with such leaks."

The police will question Olmert under caution for the 14th time today, but the four-hour interrogation is expected to focus on a different case: his alleged political appointments at the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry during his tenure as its minister.