Anat Kam. Was unable to comment
Photo: Ido Keinan

Anat Kam affair: Israelis were the last to know

Local media had been unable to report affair do to gag order, while foreign press freely detailed offences attributed to former soldier

While the Israeli press could only vaguely refer to the security affair which was cleared for publication Thursday, readers exposed to foreign media could find extensive reports of the counts journalist Anat Kam will be facing.


The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) released its first report on March 29, where it revealed that Kam, until recently a reporter with the Walla website, has been under house arrest since December 2009, after being accused of leaking classified information during her IDF service to Ha'aretz journalist Uri Blau. According to the JTA report, State prosecution is seeking a 14-year sentence for Kam.


Days later the British Guardian reported the affair and stated that the State Prosecutor's Office in Israel was accusing Kam of leaking classified information out of intent to compromise state security. As part of her role in the office of former Central Command Chief Yair Naveh, Kam was exposed to documents which allegedly contain Naveh's permission to open fire at three Palestinians who posed no definite threat to IDF soldiers and against High Court of Justice rulings.

The Guardian's item


The Guardian spoke to Kam who said she could not comment on the affair. Her attorney Eitan Lehman also refused to comment due to the gag order placed on the affair. Dov Alfon, editor of Ha'aretz which published an article based on the documents allegedly stolen by Kam, said that a hearing on the gag order will be held on April 12, two days before the journalist's trial opens.


According to Alfon, the reporter who wrote the article was in London and would stay there as long as necessary.


The British Independent newspaper reported that Blau departed for Asia three months ago and later headed to the UK. According to the report, which is based on an Israeli source, Blau was negotiating the terms of his return to Israel with the State Prosecutor's Office.


The Independent's report


The newspaper further reported that Kam denied all charges against her and noted that should she be convicted of espionage she may face a heavy prison sentence. Alfon told the British paper, "Haaretz has a 90-year-long tradition of protecting its reporters from government pressures, and Uri Blau is getting all the help we can provide him with."


The affair was also widely referred to by Jewish bloggers around the world, as well as bodies concerned with freedom of the press and freedom of speech, including the US Committee to Protect Journalists which urged the affair's exposure.


'Israelis can only gossip'

Pulitzer-Prize winner and New York Times journalist Judith Miller also addressed the affair in her blog and noted that Blau's London exile was meant to avoid a Shin Bet inquiry into his sources. "What is being called the 'Anat Kamm affair' has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executives," she wrote.


Miller described the unfolding of the affair from the Ha'aretz article in 2008 until the initial report of Kam's arrest in Richard Silverstein's Tikun Olam blog.


Miller described the harshness of Israeli censorship and the courts' compliance with the defense establishment's motions to bar the publication of information. She also referred to the Israeli coverage of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, which according to her was based on foreign reports.


"Israel, like the United States at the federal level, also has no shield law that protects journalists from being forced to reveal the sources of their stories," she noted.


Miller also mentioned the illegal payments attributed to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which were exposed in 2003. She noted that journalist Baruch Kra was asked to name his sources but refused. "The source was eventually identified, however, when Israeli officials obtained a court warrant authorizing their inspection of his telephone records. No one was jailed."


פרסום ראשון: 04.08.10, 14:31
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