The State Department has asked the Justice Department to investigate leaks of confidential diplomatic cables involving statements about a Palestinian state headed by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat reportedly made by Sen. Charles Percy (R. III.) in talks with Soviet leaders last month, Jack Cannon, the State Department’s deputy spokesman, told reporters last Friday.
After reports on Percy’s conversations were disclosed in the media, he was sharply criticized by Jewish leaders and by a number of Senators, who said his Moscow comments deviated from U.S. policy and Republican platform positions on the Middle East.
Cannon said, at the regular briefing Friday that the State Department “originated the request” for an investigation of the leaks “which was made to the Justice Department which then referred it to the FBI.”
Cannon said the matter had been discussed with Percy and all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee several days earlier. He added that “all members who discussed this matter agreed that an investigation would be appropriate.” He said “whenever leaks of sensitive classified matter occur, it is of concern.”
Cannon also said that the purpose of the investigation was “to determine whether or not a crime was committed” and that “the whole episode will be investigated.” He declined to provide any additional details.
Asked whether President-elect Reagan’s transition team members at the State Department were being denied access to sensitive material in view of the planned investigation, Cannon said “I am not aware that any change has been made in the procedures.” In reply to a question, Cannon said this was the first time than an official investigation of leaks of confidential information has been undertaken during the Carter Administration.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.