In an embarrassing moment for IDF intelligence, the Tel Aviv District Court has several days ago, cleared for publication the report that a journalist from Israel was accused of leaking top-secret information without authorization in an attempt to compromise the State’s security and possession of classified intelligence.
Anat Kam, 23, a reporter for the Walla news website, leaked secret documents which she had stolen from the army, where she served in the office of then-Central Command Chief Yair Naveh.
Kam’s attorney Avigdor Feldman claimed that she acted out of moral motives and not in an attempt to compromise state security and henceforth forwarded the materials to a journalist and not to “hostile elements”.
The public relations expert serving Kam, Nissim Duek, said:
“There is a very big gap between the media talk and the facts which will be revealed in court. The fact is that the court decided to place Kam under house arrest, despite the State’s motion to arrest her and allowed her to keep working as a reporterâ€¦Kam was exposed to documents together with hundreds of other junior soldiers, how is that to be explained if those were indeed so classified. How can one explain the fact that she was arrested over a year after the article’s publication? The security elements are trying to paint her as an enemy of the state and she is not.”
In November 2008, Uri Blau of Haaretz reported that the IDF had held discussions which revealed that the army ignored High Court rulings in regards to assassinations of Palestinians; and that the assassinations were carried out following orders given by the Northern Command, “even in cases in which the wanted terror suspects could have been arrested.”
Kam was arrested by the Shin Bet in December 2009, 13 months after the article was published, following an investigation sanctioned by IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Kam had burned the files onto a CD and uploaded them onto her personal computer after her release from army service. She then offered the classified material to another journalist, though not resulting in any published reports.
In September of 2009, Blau, through his attorney, handed the Shin Bet some 50 documents which he had received from Kam, as well as his computer, which was destroyed. However, the investigation discovered that Kam had copied and transferred more than 2,000 documents to the Haaretz reporter.
Some of the documents were of detailed plans for past and future IDF operations, combat doctrines, defense plans of Central Command, summaries of meetings between senior IDF officers, information on the deployment of IDF forces and lists of ways to deal with a possible heat up in the territories.
Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin referred to the affair as the most severe in Israeli history, considering the damage it might have caused to the country’s security.
Diskin defined the documents as “highly classified” saying:
“If these documents, even part of them, reach enemy hands or foreign intelligence agencies, this could cause serious, ongoing security damage and danger to IDF soldiers and Israeli citizensâ€¦You don’t need to be an expert in information security to understand how much dangerous information there is here.”
Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist Judith Miller addressed the affair in her blog, saying that Blau was staying in London in order to avoid the Shin Bet:
“What is being called the ‘Anat Kam affair’ has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executivesâ€¦Israel, like the United States at the federal level, also has no shield law that protects journalists from being forced to reveal the sources of their storiesâ€¦ “