Israeli soldier faces long jail term for passing secret papers to
show officials authorised killing of Palestinian militants when they
could have been arrested instead
6 February 2011
A policeman tries to prevent a
photographer taking pictures of Palestinian youths being arrested in
Jerusalem. Papers leaked by Anat Kam cast light on Israeli policies
towards the arrest of militants. Photograph: Kobi Gideon/EPA
A former Israeli
soldier is facing a long prison sentence after admitting that she passed
thousands of classified military documents to a newspaper reporter.
Anat Kam, 24, has been
under house arrest since she was charged in January 2010 with espionage
and intent to harm state security with a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment. In a plea bargain, that charge was dropped when she
admitted to collecting and passing on secret information. She faces a
maximum sentence of 15 years, but prosecutors are reportedly asking for
about nine years.
Among the documents
leaked by Kam to the Haaretz reporter Uri Blau were papers showing that
Israeli military and security officials had authorised the killing of
Palestinian militants in operations where they could have instead been
arrested. Kam made copies of 2,000 documents, including 700 marked top
secret, during her national service as a clerk in the office of a top
Blau published an
investigation revealing the content of the documents in November 2008.
The assassinations contravened an Israeli high court judgment which
ruled that militants must be arrested where possible.
Blau's article was
approved by the military censor, and Kam was not arrested for more than
a year after publication. The Haaretz journalist remained in London,
where he was at the time of Kam's arrest, for many months, fearing he
would face prosecution if he returned to Israel.
He flew back in October after his lawyers struck a deal with the Shin
Bet security service under which he returned the documents.
After Kam's arrest,
the Israeli authorities imposed a gagging order on the reporting of the
case, which was lifted last April.
Kam admitted the
lesser charge of possession and distribution of classified information
at Tel Aviv district court. She declined to comment beyond issuing a
"We agreed to a plea
bargain today," she said. "Out of respect for the court, I don't intend
on discussing the sentence. Today I admitted to committing the crimes
attributed to me. I'm not thinking about the punishment. What's written
in the law is out of my hands."
Eytan Lehman, Kam's
lawyer, urged a "proportionate" punishment. "What we said from the
beginning is true – there was no intention of harming Israeli security,"
he said. A harsh sentence would damage Israeli democracy, he added. "If
people are afraid to speak out about things that happen that should not
happen, this is very dangerous."
The next hearing in
the case is scheduled for 11 April, but Lehman expected the sentencing
to take place some weeks after that. Kam will remain under house arrest.