Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was questioned for two hours on Tuesday on suspicions of obstruction of justice and breach of trust, following information indicating he obtained a copy of classified information from an investigation held against him.
Former Ambassador to Belarus Zeev Ben-Arieh – who is currently serving as the legal advisor in Lieberman's office - confessed to police that he received and passed on the sensitive documents to Lieberman in October 2008. According to the investigators, Ben-Arieh responded to all of their questions.
The top police brass was said to be stunned after National Fraud Unit investigators revealed the Lieberman was aware of the ongoing leg of the investigation in Belarus.
"Our entire Belarus probe was transparent to him," a police source told Ynet. "This wasn’t just a single document, but a series of papers revealing the whole of the investigation."
According to police suspicions, during the period Lieberman was serving as a Knesset member, Ben-Arieh received a request to transfer a document directly and discreetly from the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem to the authorities in Belarus regarding Lieberman's investigation.
The document was first handed to the Justice Ministry by Israel Police. It contained a request for legal assistance from the certified authorities in Belarus and outlined significant details regarding the investigation, including issues for which assistance was requested.
The ambassador reportedly copied the classified information detailed in the request ahead of Lieberman's visit to Belarus a year and a half ago. He then informed Lieberman of the request and illegally passed it on to him when the two met during the said visit.
The information passed on to the embassy in Minsk included a request to question banks and prominent figures in Belarus. The ambassador opened the sealed envelope containing the documents despite the fact that he was instructed to pass it on to Belarus law officials when it was still sealed. The information within contained a list of bank accounts and people slated to be investigated as part of the affair in which the minister was embroiled.
The investigation also addressed Lieberman's involvement in the promotion and employment of Ben-Arieh in the Foreign Ministry in recent months.
Ben-Arieh has been investigated by the police recently on suspicions that he committed obstruction of justice, breach of duty, fraud, and breach of trust. An investigation of Lieberman was ordered following the questioning of Ben-Arieh.
Minister Lieberman was investigated Tuesday for obstructing justice and breach of trust.
In August 2009, the police recommended that Lieberman be put on trial for accepting a bribe, fraud, money laundering, and breach of trust. Since then, his file has been under the care of the State Prosecutor's Office. At the end of the year, an interim report was issued to then Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report