The Israeli whistleblower

Israeli whistleblower Anat Kamm leaked 2,000 classified military documents obtained during her service with the Israeli Defence Force. Maryam Omidi discusses the claims of national security versus public interest.

The case

Journalist Anat Kamm was sentenced to four and a half years in October 2011 for leaking 2,000 classified military documents obtained during her service with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). The documents, which were leaked to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau, revealed that the killing of two Palestinian militants by Israeli security forces in the West Bank contravened a 2006 Supreme Court ruling on targeted assassinations.

The Ministry of Justice said the case was “exceptionally serious” as the documents included details of military plans. Following the leak, Kamm was put under secret house arrest for espionage and a court-imposed super-injunction prevented the media from reporting either on the case or the gag. Despite this, the story was covered by foreign media and bloggers.

Author opinion

Like all security forces in the world, the IDF is not above criticism. While there is an argument to be made for classified information to remain under wraps, to ensure public safety for example, leaks should be examined on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, Kamm was right to have leaked the documents, which showed that the supreme court’s ruling had been violated. The information was therefore in the public interest and the media had a right to report it.

By using a super-injunction, the authorities stifled debate on the legitimacy of the leak; journalists may also be deterred from covering sensitive stories about the IDF in the future. The gag was further made ridiculous by coverage of the story by foreign media, underscoring the frequent futility of super-injunctions in today’s interconnected world.

- Maryam Omidi

Read more:


Comments (2)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. I agree that it is entirely ridiculous for Kamm to have been given a jail sentence for this “crime” as the information was unquestionably in the public interest

    The issue here is not whether the information that was leaked contained military plans, but that the IDF acted in defiance of a supreme court ruling and in doing so demonstrated their belief that they are above the law. This belief violates one of the most basic tenants of democratic society; that no one is above the law, be they civilian, politician, or military body.

    The worrying decision to impose a super-injunction on the case suggests that important elements within Israeli society may agree that the IDF should not be held accountable for their actions.

    The Israeli people, have the right to know about this kind of conduct to allow them to make informed decisions at the ballot box.

  2. Surely “the public interest” is not necessarily the most telling criterion. I have the greatest admiration for whistle-blowers, but there is often more than one way to achieve one’s noble aim. The theft or disclosure of military documents was illegal. But again, illegality is not a sacrosanct principle to be observed at all times. I would have advised this fine young woman to try other ways before resorting to the extreme measure she decided on.

Leave a comment in any language

Highlights

Swipe left to browse all of the highlights.


Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

The University of Oxford