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Israel Gags News of Soldier-Turned-Journalist Under Arrest
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WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israel has held a journalist under secret house arrest since last December based on allegations that during her military service she leaked classified documents suggesting the IDF violated laws dealing with targeted killings.

Anat Kam, 23, was arrested last December and charged under Israel's espionage and treason laws, JTA has learned.

Prosecutors are seeking a 14-year sentence, which is considered severe by Israeli standards. Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons capability, was sentenced to 18 years, eventually serving the full amount.

At the time of her arrest, Kam was working as a reporter for the Israeli internet site Walla, which was partially owned by Haaretz until last week. But the charges relate to Kam’s service in the Israeli army, when she is alleged to have photocopied sensitive documents. Bloggers have speculated that the documents she allegedly photocopied served as the basis for a November 2008 Haaretz story suggesting alleged army violations.

Kam has denied the charges.

Kam’s arrest has been under a gag order in Israel, which Haaretz says it is appealing.

With the gag order in place, it is impossible to know exactly what the prosecution's reasoning is for a 14-year sentence. Israel sustains vibrant freedoms of speech and press, but there is a strong taboo in the country against relaying information garnered while in service. The fact that Kam allegedly photocopied the documents while in uniform may weigh against her.

Dov Alfon, the editor in chief of Haaretz, said the linkage between Kam’s arrest and the 2008 article, made in a number of blogs, is "absurd." He implied that the investigative reporter, Uri Blau, had obtained the information without assistance from Kam.

"Haaretz asked the court to lift the gag order, not just in the public interest but also to allow us to defend ourselves from this absurd allegation," Alfon said. "More than a year passed between the publication and her arrest, a year in which Uri Blau published several other front-page articles criticizing the army's conduct."

Eitan Lehman, one of Kam's lawyers, refused to comment or confirm any details. The IDF declined to comment.

JTA confirmed details of the case with sources close to the matter.

The Nov. 26, 2008 story in Haaretz revealed the existence of documents defying a 2006 Supreme Court ruling against assassinating wanted militants who otherwise might be arrested safely.

In one March 28, 2007 document reprinted by Haaretz, Gen. Yair Naveh, then the central commander, permitted open-fire procedures upon identification of any of three leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, even if it was not apparent that they posed a threat.

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff then and now, approved the targets on March 29, 2007, according to minutes of a meeting reproduced by Haaretz, and said furthermore that troops were to withhold fire only if they were unable to identify "more than one" passenger in the targeted vehicle.

Both orders violated the law, according to experts cited by Haaretz.

One of the three wanted men, Ziad Malisha, was killed near Jenin on June 20, 2007 in what the IDF at the time said was an "exchange of fire."

Naveh told Haaretz that there were times when troops under his command did not observe arrest procedures if the suspect was a "ticking bomb" and did not immediately surrender. It also quoted the army as saying that arrest was not possible in the Malisha case.

Kam, 23, reportedly served in Naveh's office at the time of the memos.

The military censor, which prevents publication of information that could harm Israel's national security, approved the Haaretz story for publication.

By contrast, Israeli courts have gagged not only the details of Kam’s arrest, but news of the arrest itself. The appeal against the gag order, which has been joined by other media outlets, will be heard April 12 in Tel Aviv District Court.

In the past, Israeli authorities have issued such orders in sensitive national security cases. Gag orders still apply, for example, to aspects of the Vanunu case.

But it's not clear why a gag order was imposed in this case, Kam’s supporters say, especially since the military censor approved publication of the original Haaretz story. There is speculation that this time the prosecution is using the gag order to prevent public outrage, which could result in sympathy for Kam and a reduced sentence.

The investigation into Kam was a joint effort of military intelligence, the police, and the Shin Bet internal security service.

Kam's editor, Yitzhak Tessler, wrote an oblique column in Maariv on Jan. 24 describing an imaginary "Shu-Shuland" where a young female journalist is held under house arrest and none of her colleagues come to her defense. "A good thing Israel doesn't resemble Shu-Shuland," he wrote.

A Facebook group called "Where did Anat Kam disappear to?" was launched and shut down within days.

In the United States, blogger Richard Silverstein has covered the matter. Other Israeli bloggers have posted and then removed accounts of the case.

As a media entity based in New York and reporting from Washington, JTA is not subject to the Israeli gag order. 

Last Update:

03/28/2010 - 09:47
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I don't know why I continue to think people in high places act honestly. It's really such a dangerously distorted way to look at what goes on, and yet I fall for it so often. THANK YOU for this healthy dose of reality. Of course it was the Left that leaked the data on new housing in Jerusalem.
The Israeli Left, spawned some of the worst traitors in the history of Israel. Ideological simpaticos of their American Jewish traitors, the Rosenbergs, Elsberg and those who filled the ranks of the American Communist Party. Matzpen, a so "underground" faction of the hot headed Mapam, the Stalinist faction of Israel's Labor, produced the famous traitor, Colonel Israel Baer, recruited by the Reds in Spain, 1936) died in prison, after leaking to Russia documents from the Defense Ministry, being a deputy for many years (1961) than we had Oudi Adiv, another Lefty traitor who got trained in espionage in Syria and banded with a bunch of Arabas in Israel to begin with sabotage work. he was caught, served his time, and lives a respectable life in the forgiving Tel-Aviv, where the Left is still cool. Recently a so called journalist, groupy who had a crush on an El Aqsa terrorist in jenin was nailed after passing information and support, and was convicted. The list Is long and there is no time to name all the traitors of the Left, which include the delicate and tender son of Yoseff Burg, a pretender to the throne, a phony Socialist, who left Israel for Paris as a "political refugee" and we should also mention the numerous Israeli Academics who spew their trashing of Israel from various Socialist universities in England. Make no mistake about it, the leaks on housing in Jerusalem are no accident, the release and distribution of this data is coordinated by the Left which populated all government offices in order to destabilize and shame the Prime Minister. The timid Israeli media, run by Socialists (IBA, Haaretz, maariv...) will not put any resources to investigate the ties between Israeli NGO's and the U.S Embassy, TLV, as well as U.S based NGO's serving the Socialist agenda of the Obama enterprises. His entire adminstration is staffed by key nominees hostile to Israel and their partners in Israel are glad to supply them with fresh kneidalachs on a weekly basis.

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