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Former Israeli Female Soldier Charged with Espionage

  • Robert Berger

A case of military espionage in Israel is pitting the press against the state.

A former female Israeli soldier has been charged with espionage for leaking 2,000 military documents, including 700 classified as "Top Secret." The soldier, Anat Kam, copied the documents while working for a general who commanded Israeli forces in the West Bank. Then she handed them over to a reporter at the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz

Raz Nizri, a senior aide to Israel's attorney general, said the leak poses a serious threat to state security.

Nizri told Israel Radio that the documents include information on military operations and deployments, which could be disastrous if it falls into the hands of hostile elements.

The indictment says that Kam, a 23-year-old-journalist, leaked the documents because of her leftist ideology. The documents revealed that the army was defying a Supreme Court ruling banning targeted killings of Palestinian militants.

Kam's lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, says the charges of espionage are ludicrous.

Feldman said the documents should have been published because the Israeli public has the right to know that the army is violating orders of the Supreme Court.

The High Court ruled that targeted killings amount to illegal extrajudicial killing, while proponents say it enabled the army to quell a Palestinian campaign of suicide bombings and shooting attacks.

Kam has been held under house arrest since December but the story was under censorship. The gag order was lifted after details were published in the foreign media.

Under a deal with Israel's Shin Bet security service, Ha'aretz reporter Uri Blau agreed to return the documents in exchange for immunity from prosecution. But now, the Shin Bet charges that Blau withheld hundreds of documents and is holding them in London. The state is demanding that he return to Israel for questioning, but the newspaper has refused.

Ha'aretz editor Dov Alfon said reporters have the right to protect their sources, and he described the state's position as an attack on freedom of the press.