Photo: Alexandra Tolechko
Jerusalem Court Justice Hagit Mack-Kalmanovitch on Monday convicted Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben-Aryeh within the framework of a plea bargain for leaking information to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman regarding the investigation against him.
The court is set to sentence Ben-Aryeh, who was convicted of breach of duty and disruption of legal proceedings. The prosecution is seeking six months of community service.
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Lieberman is also being investigated for fraud and breach of trust. According to police, in 1998 Zeev Ben Aryeh, while serving as Israel's ambassador to Belarus, relayed to Lieberman secret details about the ongoing investigation against him, which the envoy had received as part of his official function.
When the affair was exposed, Lieberman criticized then-Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen, and petitioned the High Court to reopen a case from 2008 involving police leaks from investigations.
"They warn me to remain silent while the police commissioner tells all and twists the story… it was the mother and father of all obstructions of justice," said Lieberman.
Meanwhile, the former ambassador responded to the suspicions by claiming that the envelope containing the classified information was already open when it reached him.
"According to what I learned in the Foreign Ministry, the ambassador is not a mailman and cannot relay anything without knowing what it contains. But I received an open envelope. In it there was also a letter addressed to me, so I couldn't pass it on without reading it first," he said.
When asked in an interview if he gave Lieberman the information he responded: "There is an asymmetry (in the police's claims). I cannot comment, as I am under investigation. There are many discrepancies and many things which I am supposedly guilty of that have nothing to do with this (affair)."
The former ambassador accused police of purposely blowing the affair out of proportion. "I little fly has been made into a giant elephant, so that the elephant will cover up the other developments," he said.
Police noted that they managed to reach Ben-Aryeh in a relatively short period of time thanks to intelligence they received. Ben-Aryeh then confessed to the charges. He told investigators how he passed the investigation information to Lieberman thus strengthening the evidence against the foreign minister in order to indict him.
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