Israel Indicts Freedom of the Press: Kam, Blau and Vanunu

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by Eileen Fleming

 

On Wednesday, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced the State would indict Haaretz journalist Uri Blau and charge him with unauthorized possession of classified documents.

Weinstein told reporters he would not accuse the journalist of traditional espionage in this case that involves classified documents that Blau received from then-IDF soldier Anat Kam, who is now serving a prison term of 4.5 years for passing on classified information.

The Israel SECURITY Agency/Shin Bet/Shabak, the State Prosecutor’s Office, and the Israel Police all sought the indictment.

In his statement, Weinstein claimed, “Blau blatantly broke the agreement he signed, allegedly lied to investigators and handed over only a small part of the stolen military information he received. The potential for damage in the unprotected possession of the documents was enormous.” [1]

Blau had recently returned to Israel in accordance with the agreement made with the Prosecutor’s Office and he maintains he turned over all the documents he received from Kam and others sources.

Blau has also agreed to undergo a lie detector test.
The State Prosecutor’s office stated it will indict Blau, because he “betrayed his duty – and later his commitment before the state – to cease possession of them.” [2] 

The Israeli Justice Department, said the decision was made “after taking into account all of the relevant considerations, including the need to restrain the enforcement policy in order to maintain the Israeli press as a free press which fulfills its duty.”[Ibid]

The duty of The Press is to seek and report the truth!





“All material published in Hebrew in Israel must be checked by military censors prior to publication and the military regularly obtains gag orders from the court system to prevent reporting of events, such as the Anat Kam affair.” [Ibid]

Senior Yedioth Ahronoth [where Kam had worked] journalist Yigal Serena stated that Weinstein’s decision “is part of the attempts to silence journalists in Israel. The problem isn’t that reporters have access to confidential materials. There is a long, ongoing decline in investigative journalism in Israel and this is another step in it. This didn’t come up out of nowhere. This is part of the long process of the collapse of free press. The AG just put another nail in the coffin.”

Kam’s conviction is Israel’s second highest profile case of whistle blowing followed by imprisonment, second only to Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower, Mordechai Vanunu.

Up until twenty-six years ago, Vanunu worked as a low-to-mid-level technician at the Dimona Nuclear Facility . In September 1986, he was kidnapped by the Mossad for telling the truth and providing the photographic proof to the London Sunday Times, which confirmed the existence of Israel’s much denied plutonium separation plant.

When Vanunu last set foot into Israel’s WMD facility, the plant was buried eighty feet below ground in the Negev desert. Ever since the 1960’s, the Dimona has been used to recover plutonium from spent fuel rods.

As the Prime Minister at the time, Shimon Peres, ordered Vanunu’ s kidnapping in a lame attempt to silence the truth and to bring Vanunu to trial for allegedly jeopardizing the SECURITY of the state of Israel. 

”But Vanunu’s real ‘crime’ was speaking the truth. And for that he was made to suffer a fate worse than death: eleven years and five months in solitary confinement. Isolation in a tiny cell is a well-known form of torture, and one that can cause deep emotional scars and mental impairment. During this period Vanunu was subjected to constant harassments and humiliations: an obvious attempt by the Mossad to break his will, or drive him over the edge. Amnesty International described the conditions of his ordeal as ‘cruel, inhuman, and degrading.’

“One of the causes for which Vanunu risked his life, full disclosure of Israel’s nuclear policies, was briefly realized in February 1999, when a debate of the nuclear issue occurred on the floor of the Israeli Knesset. The event was short-lived. After shouting and recriminations, several Arab members of the Knesset who had sparked the debate were expelled from the chamber…Over the years the case of Mordechai Vanunu has come to symbolize the intractable problem of state secrecy that continues to stymie all efforts toward world nuclear disarmament [and] The US press ignores his case because it is an embarrassment to Israel and to the US government.” [3]

Further Embarrassment:

In October 2011, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced former Israel Defense Forces soldier Anat Kam to four-and-a-half years in prison for “collecting, holding and passing on classified information without authorization”.

Kam was convicted in February 2012, under a plea bargain admitting guilt to gathering and storing of over 2,000 classified military documents from the Central Command office [under Maj. Gen. Naveh] during her army service.

Kam passed on the documents to reporter Uri Blau whose investigative report in Haaretz Magazine exposed misconduct by the Israel Defense Forces/IDF.

“The report reveals that the IDF had approved well in advance the targeted killing of Malaisha [on June 20, 2007, during a routine military raid in the West Bank] contravening the High Court ruling and intentionally misleading the public. The report was attributed to ‘classified IDF documents’ and had been approved by the Military Censor before going to press.” [4]

Blau made use “of classified material from those documents as the basis for two newspaper articles. In the first, published in late October 2008, Blau accused the IDF of defying a High Court of Justice ruling against the targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists. The next article, published a few weeks later, similarly intimated that the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings, and included a photocopy of a targeted-killing order Kam had given Blau.” [5]
In her own testimony, Kam described “Maj. Gen. Naveh’s office as ‘embarrassing in terms of information security’ and testified that she had not undergone any security check prior to being assigned to her army role, even though she had access to the most confidential documents.” [Ibid]

Vanunu embarrassed Israeli SECURITY when he managed to photograph top secret locations inside the Dimona because a supervisor carelessly left the keys to the restricted areas in the shower room.

Twenty-four years after the Mossad kidnapped Vanunu from Rome after luring him from London, they returned to track down another who followed his conscience but was labeled a traitor by a state who view truth tellers as a threat to their sense of security.

The prey that time was Uri Blau, who went into hiding after writing a series of reports exposing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders.

Blau went underground to escape a potential lengthy jail term for espionage, for Israeli security services warned they would “remove the gloves” and track down the “fugitive felon.”

The military censor, who prevents publication of information that they deem could harm Israel’s national security, approved Blau’s story for publication in Haaretz .

Kam had originally been charged under Israel’s espionage and treason laws but the amended indictment dropped the charge of deliberately intending to harm state security, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The Israeli court initially gagged all news and details of Kam’s arrest but after a cyber storm of Internet reporting, the gag order was lifted.

Shortly after her arrest, Kam admitted to copying the documents while serving in the office in charge of operations in the West Bank, between 2005 and 2007.

Then 23 years old, Kam said she acted out of conscience to expose war crimes and she believed she would be forgiven for her honesty and integrity.

A prelude to the Kam affair began in July 2009, when Kam’s brothers in spirit from Breaking the Silence, an Israeli human rights group published 54 testimonies from Israeli soldiers regarding their experiences during Operation Cast Lead.

The testimonies exposed the gaps between the reports given by the army in January 2009 regarding the “accepted practices; the destruction of hundreds of houses and mosques for no military purpose, the firing of phosphorous gas in the direction of populated areas, the killing of innocent victims with small arms, the destruction of private property, and most of all, a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions.” [6]

On February 3, 2010, The Independent reported that a high-ranking officer who served as a commander during Operation Cast Lead, admitted that Israel’s army went beyond its previous rules of engagement on the protection of civilian lives and “that he did not regard the longstanding principle of military conduct known as ‘means and intentions’– whereby a targeted suspect must have a weapon and show signs of intending to use it before being fired upon – as being applicable before calling in fire from drones and helicopters in Gaza last winter.” [7]

The Déjà Vu:

Kam and Vanunu shared the same attorneys.

Kam was initially accused of treason and espionage.

Vanunu was convicted of both.

Kam and Vanunu both acted on moral and ideological grounds in a spirit of dissent from government policies of war and deceptions.

Kam spent two years under house arrest before going to jail.

Vanunu endured 18 years in a windowless tomb sized cell and on 21 April 2012, he began his 9th year under 24/7 surveillance by SECURITY who has denied his right to leave the state.

To this day, the Dimona nuclear plant remains uninspected by IAEA inspectors and Vanunu remains captive under “The restrictions, not to leave the country…The Israel stupid spies will not get any thing from here.” [8]

The mainstream media blackout over Vanunu’s historic freedom of speech trial and 78 days back in solitary confinement in 2010, just because he spoke to foreign media in 2004 continues, but it all has been well documented in

On June 6th, the Israeli Supreme Court is to at last address Vanunu’s request to revoke his citizenship in the hope he will be able to fade into the world instead of continuing to make headlines:

Vanunu Mordechai asking ,CANCEL,Revoking my Citizenship-MAY 5-2011.

On October 10, 2011, Vanunu wrote, “even if they will cancel my citizenship, it doesn’t mean they will send me free, they can still keep me here, but we believe this is the way out from Israel. If they will not cancel my Israel citizenship, then the court will decide to hear the case, and then the judges in the court hearing will decide if they will force the interior minister to follow his Israel laws, and cancel my citizenship. Any way they must let [me] go free after 25 years. VMJC.”

The Illegality of Israeli ‘Justice’ and MICROSOFT Connection

In 1986, after being clubbed, drugged, bound and kidnapped by the Mossad in Rome, Vanunu was transported back to Israel for a closed-door trial.

Vanunu was rendered defenseless when the court ruled that his motivations were not ideological and they refused to allow Vanunu’s own statements regarding his intentions to be considered in his defense.

In 1986, Nuclear Physicist, Frank Barnaby was employed by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu and review the 57 photos he had obtained at various restricted/top secret locations in the Dimona.

Barnaby spent three days with Vanunu in London before his abduction by the Mossad.

Barnaby attended Vanunu’s closed-door trial and called by the defense to give expert testimony, Barnaby testified:

“I found the fact that Vanunu was able to smuggle a camera and films into and out of Dimona and photograph highly sensitive areas in the establishment astonishing…I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times…I found Vanunu very straightforward.

“After questioning him about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically. Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy.

“The knowledge that Vanunu had about Isreal’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985 and the design of today’s Israeli nuclear weapons will have been considerably changed since then…Modern nuclear weapons bear little relationship to those of the mid-1980.” [9]

Blau has escaped the charge of espionage, but Vanunu was convicted of it.

In exchange for a promise protecting both him and his source from investigation, Blau returned 50 documents but authorities continue to claim he held hundreds more classified documents.

While on holiday in 2009, a friend had warned Blau that the Shin Bet had broken into his home and ransacked it. Blau later learned that the Israeli secret police had been monitoring his telephone, e-mail and computer for months.

On February 22, 2006, it was revealed in court that Israel had asked Microsoft to hand over all the details of Vanunu’s Hotmail account before a court order had been obtained.
 
Vanunu wrote, “Microsoft obeyed the orders and gave them all the details…three months before I was arrested and my computers were confiscated…it is strange to ask Microsoft to give this information before obtaining the court order to listen to my private conversations. It means they wanted to go through my emails in secret, or maybe, with the help of the secret services, the Shaback, Mossad.

“Sfard [Vanunu’s attorney] proved that the police had misled the judges who gave the orders to arrest me: to search my room, to go through my email, to confiscate my computers and that they misled Microsoft to believe they are helping in a case of espionage.

“The State came to the court with two special secret Government orders; Hisaion [documents or information that are deemed confidential by the government and kept from the court, the defendant, and lawyers.] This allows the prosecution to keep documents related to my court hearing secret. One was from the Minister for Interior Security and one from the Minister of Defense.” [10]

Vanunu’s secretly taped police interrogations, his 2004 Christmas Eve arrest for “attempting to leave the country” when he attempted to celebrate mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the confiscation of his private property by thirty IDF that stormed into his room at St. George’s Cathedral in 2004, Vanunu wrote had all “been done under the false and misleading statements to the courts of ‘suspicion of espionage’, and yet they are not charging me with spy crimes…and the fact is that I have not committed any crimes.”[Ibid]

Legally Speaking:

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights upholds that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”, including abduction of a person by agents of one state to another state.

Section 99 of the Israeli Penal Code, treason is defined as “an act calculated to assist (an enemy) in time of war…delivering information with the intention that it fall into the hands of the enemy.”

Section 113 defines aggravated espionage as “deliver(ing) any secret information without being authorized to do so and with intent to impair the security of the state” and a sub-clause provides for a penalty of seven years for the unauthorized collection, preparation, recording or holding of secret information; if this is done with intent to impair the security of the state and then, the penalty is increased to 15 years.

Eitan Lehman, Kam’s lawyer stated, “We have a dangerous precedent here, whereby the handing over of material to an Israeli newspaper is seen by the prosecutor’s office as equivalent to contact with a foreign agent. The very notion of presenting information to the Israeli public alone is taken as an intention to hurt national security.”

After Kamm’s sentencing the state prosecutor Hadas Porrer-Gefni, told reporters the panel of three judges had given a “strong message” to young people on mandatory army service and that young people should be made aware of Kam’s sentence before embarking on their mandatory IDF service.

“The judgment should be learned in every school and every basic training unit in the army, so that anyone who thinks he can take classified documents knows what punishment he will get.”

Blau published stories based on documents provided by Kam.

The documents exposed how the army command approved policies that broke international law and violated the rulings of Israel’s courts.

Blau’s reports revealed that senior commanders approved extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories that were almost certain to kill Palestinian bystanders and the army issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely captured in violation of a commitment to the high court.

Blau also exposed that the defense ministry compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said its research had shown that “in many cases soldiers have been conducting themselves in the territories as if they were on a hit mission, as opposed to arrest operations.”

The crimes of the state are blatant but it is the truth tellers who go to jail.

Journalists should be a thorn in the side of Governments and Institutions and healthy democracies can only thrive on dissent and a FREE PRESS!

In Israel, the SECURITY forces, IDF and Justice system have colluded to make freedom of conscience and freedom of the press “just another word for nothin’ left to lose and nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s FREE.”

May the day come soon when whistle blowers and reporters who act on conscience for the greater good, be good enough for all and a democracy in name is democracy indeed.

I do believe that day will and must come, because NO Government has any RIGHT to gag, censor or criminalize FREEDOM of Conscience, Speech or the Press; and it has been enshrined in the UN UNIVERSAL DECLARATION of HUMAN RIGHTS -upon which the Establishment of Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Read more…

But “If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution.” [Emma Goldman] this reporter and candidate of conscience for US HOUSE ends with music:

JANIS JOPLIN Me and Bobby McGee (1969)

And this link to a very related article: Before Manning and Assange: There was Vanunu Mordechai
Read more…

  1. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/156341#.T8ZL0L_N6Hk
  2. http://www.imemc.org/article/63626
  3. http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/01/31/mordechai-vanunu-and-israel-s-nukes/
  4. http://972mag.com/timeline-the-anat-kamm-affair/26542/
  5. http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=243738
  6. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1344&Itemid=222
  7. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israeli-commander-we-rewrote-the-rules-of-war-for-gaza-1887627.html
  8. http://www.youtube.com/user/vanunuvmjc
  9. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/barnaby.pdf
  10. BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECHTrial and My Life as a Muckraker

I am Eileen Fleming for US HOUSE of Representatives and I approve of all of my messages.


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