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Haaretz reporter reaches plea bargain with Tel Aviv district attorney
July 6, 2012Reporters Without Borders has deep reservations about yesterdays announcement that a deal has been struck between the Tel Aviv district attorney and Haaretz reporter Uri Blau under which Blau will plead guilty to illegally possessing classified documents in exchange for a sentence of four months of community service.
While we are relieved that Blau will avoid a prison sentence that could have been as much as seven years under article 113-c of the penal code, this plea bargain is highly questionable and we reiterate our call for the withdrawal of all the charges against Blau, Reporters Without Borders said.
Four months of community service is obviously a much less severe sentence but it still constitutes a serious violation of media freedom and sends a warning to journalists. They now know they will be taking a risk if they base a story on confidential documents. At the same time, the excessive secrecy of the Israeli military and security apparatus makes proper reporting impossible without use of classified documents.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Blau will plead guilty to possession of secret information without intending to harm state security.
He received the classified documents, about illegal activity by the Israel Defence Forces in the Occupied Territories, from Anat Kamm, a young woman who was sentenced on 30 October 2011 to four and a half years in prison (plus 18 months suspended) for copying them while she was doing military service. Blau used them for story published on 4 December 2008.
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