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Anat Kamm: An Isreali Leak Case Tests Government’s Transparency

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No, this isn’t the first 15 minutes of a James Bond film.

This is the life of former Israel Defense Forces solider and journalist Anat Kamm. Kamm, 23, is accused of major espionage.

Among the charges filed against her are passing, holding, and collecting classified material with the intent to harm state security. The charge of passing those materials is punishable by life.

Kamm allegedly copied more than 2000 classified military documents and shared them with Haaretz reporter Uri Blau. Blau used the documents as evidence of the army having carried out assassinations against three wanted terrorists in the West Bank. This violated an Isreali Supreme Court ruling that made targeted assassinations illegal, and required that the military take all suspects into custody.

Since the case broke, Blau had been living in London. In an interview with Forward.com in April 2010, Blau described how he heard that his apartment had been broken into, and discovered that his phone and email accounts were being monitored. According to Blau:

“it (was) clear you have been marked by forces bigger and stronger than yourself. These forces won’t hesitate to take steps reserved for states I don’t think we want to resemble. So when they explained to me that if I return to Israel I could be silenced for ever, and that I would be charged for crimes related to espionage, I decided to fight.”

Blau’s lawyers negotiated a way for him to return to Israel without facing charges, but after reaching a deal where Blau revealed his source (with permission), he returned all the documents he had collected. The Shin Bet or Israeli Security agency is now insisting on charging Blau and receiving all the confidential documents he has collected since becoming a journalist. He is currently still residing in London.

Kamm could have found an alternative method of leaking the papers and could have done it with less than the 2,000 documents she allegedly stole. The gag order hindered her case, and the Shin Bet’s actions towards Blau are unreliable and appear indecisive.

We at Handshake believe transparency should be encouraged to its greatest degree that a democracy allows for.

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