Police Recommend Indicting FM Over Receiving Secret File From Ambassador

Avigdor Lieberman to face charges for alleged breach of trust in a case involving Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Aryeh.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Police have recommended that charges be brought against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for alleged breach of trust in a case involving Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Aryeh. Police believe that in 2008, while Ben Aryeh served as ambassador, he relayed to Lieberman secret details about an ongoing investigation against him, which the envoy had received as part of his official function.

The police believe that it was at that early stage that Lieberman learned of the main suspicions against him, for which a secret investigation was being conducted. The suspicions were mainly that he was receiving millions of shekels in bribes from businessmen.

Lieberman did not respond officially to the police recommendation to indict him. "Past experience regarding rushed police recommendations speak for themselves, and therefore there is no point in getting excited," a source close to the foreign minister said yesterday.

Yesterday's police decision is based both on the fact that Lieberman was allegedly exposed to the nature of the investigation against him, and on the appointment of Ben Aryeh at a later date - as a favor - to the post of adviser in the foreign minister's office, even though Lieberman had been aware of the ambassador's allegedly flawed behavior.

The police also recommended indicting Ben Aryeh for allegedly disrupting court procedures, breach of trust and violating secrecy.

The chief of investigations and intelligence at police headquarters, Yoav Segalowitz, has accepted the findings of the investigation.

In the coming days the details of the investigation will be transferred to the economic crimes department at the State Prosecutor's Office, where it will be evaluated on its legal merit before a decision is made by the attorney general.

Experts say it will take months before a final decision is made to indict Lieberman in this case, and add that it will only be made once there is a final decision on bringing charges against the foreign minister on the main case pending against him - suspicions of receiving bribes.

In early March Lieberman was questioned by the national fraud squad for several hours on suspicion of interfering with legal proceedings and breach of trust. Police suspect that Lieberman had access to official police and Justice Ministry information as early as October 2008, before some of his associates were arrested or questioned.

Police believe that it was former ambassador Ben Aryeh who made the secret information available to Lieberman. Ben Aryeh came under suspicion because he had received from the Justice Ministry an official request to the authorities in Belarus on information required for an investigation against Lieberman. The file received by Ben Aryeh had a "SECRET" stamp on it, and included a detailed list of the suspicions against Lieberman, as well as significant amounts of factual evidence against the foreign minister.

The request for information from the authorities in Belarus involved mostly a detailing of financial transactions from accounts in a Belarus bank to other countries in Europe, as well as information on the identities of those behind the bank accounts. Police suspect that the ambassador did not handle the file with the necessary discretion, and that he copied classified material and gave it to Lieberman when he visited Belarus in October 2008.

Ben Aryeh told police investigators that he had opened the file, kept the information and presented it to Lieberman.