Journalists ask Israeli AG to reconsider Blau indictment

(JTA) — The International Press Institute has called on Israel’s attorney general to reconsider an indictment against an Israeli investigative reporter for acquiring classified documents.

Uri Blau, a reporter for the Israeli daily Haaretz, published an article in 2008 using classified documents given to him by Anat Kamm, who copied them from a superior’s computer during her service in the Israeli military.

Kamm is serving a 4 1/2-year prison term for her role in obtaining the documents and turning them over to Blau.

The institute in a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said that prosecuting Blau, who faces a seven-year prison sentence for possession of the documents, would “undermine press freedom in general and investigative journalism in particular,” and would “set a grave precedent for the future of Israeli journalism, especially investigative reporting.”

“It is our understanding that Uri Blau handled the leaked information with care, using it only to write stories that were in the public interest,” the institute wrote. “The documents in Mr. Blau’s possession were not republished far and wide. Even if, as you suggest, the ‘potential for damage in the unprotected possession of the documents was enormous,’ it remained just that — potential damage. Mr. Blau did not share or transfer the documents, and has not been accused of having done so.

“Moreover,” the letter said, “the articles he wrote using the information were even cleared by the military censor prior to publication.”

The institute wrote that in Blau’s case, the documents were used solely to serve a strong public interest.

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