Journalist Uri Blau
has been convicted of possession of classified information without intent to harm state security after confessing to the crime as part of a plea bargain.
Blau is unlikely to be sentenced to jail time. "In retrospect, I could have acted differently in various points along the way," Blau said Tuesday after his conviction. "I worked to inform the public as a journalist and a person who is concerned with state security."
According to the plea bargain, the Tel Aviv District Court will be asked to sentence the Haaretz reporter to four months imprisonment, which will likely be converted to community service, subject to the community service chief's discretion.
"This affair took over my life," Blau said in court. "It's hard for me to accept the outcomes of this case. I am a journalist, and as such must provide the public with the maximum information in order to allow it to judge and understand reality."
He further added, "The information I am publishing is not always pleasant. The government is obviously much more comfortable when the public is not exposed to the truth. In retrospect, I could have acted differently."
Blau in court (Photo: Moti Kimhi)
Prosecutor Hadas Forer explained the decision to seek four months imprisonment by stressing the confidential nature of the documents and the potential for damage in case they were exposed. She also cited Blau's conduct as another reason for the sentence, explaining he failed to return all of the documents. "His behavior can be seen as disrespect."
However, Forer also noted that the prosecution took into account that this is the first time a journalist is tried for possession of classified information.
The defendant did not initiate contact with Anat Kam,
who in fact approached him, she said. Forer also mentioned the fact that Blau published the articles in accordance with the censorship rules.
Blau's attorney, Jack Chen, said that an indictment could have been avoided and claimed that his client "played according to the rules of the game" and had his articles inspected by army censors. "Possession of secret materials is a matter of routine for reporters, anyone who says otherwise is either naïve or lying."
According to the indictment, in 2008 Blau received a disk-on-key device from Anat Kam, a former soldier at the Central Command chief's bureau, which contained 1,800 secret and top secret documents.
The documents consisted of operative plans for military operations, deployments, IDF inquest summaries, situation assessments etc. Blau held on to the documents for two years until finally handing them over to the authorities in December 2010.
Last October, Kam was sentenced
to four and half years in prison following a conviction achieved through a plea bargain. Last week, it was revealed she intends to appeal her sentence citing Blau's "light" sentence.