Attorneys for Binyamin Netanyahu fired off an angry letter Sunday to State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit, who in November said that he would not open an investigation into leaks to the media about details of the cases against the Prime Minister. Calling the decision “unacceptable,” Netanyahu lead attorney Yossi Cohen, it was clear that at least some of the leaks were made by investigators, and the leaked materials were designed “to do nothing more than embarrass my client.”
Netanyahu’s attorneys presented Mandelblit with a thick file of leaks that had been documented going back years, claiming that the leaks were designed to instigate the media and justice system against the Prime Minister. The documentation was filed in January of this year, and it was only ten months later that Mandelblit responded – saying that while he saw the phenomena of leaks on criminal investigation as a serious one that needed to be dealt with, the leaks in the Netanyahu case were not “serious” enough to warrant an inquiry.
“When deciding to open an investigation of a case like this, we take into account the special circumstances surrounding the case,” Mandelblit wrote in his response. Among those circumstances was “the immunity of journalists in the event that information is presented by a journalist,” who would have to be called upon to reveal sources, which could hamper freedom of the press. “We need to take into account, among other things, circumstances that would harm freedom of the press and the right of the public to know information, both of which are basic elements of democracies,” he said.
But the leaks had much more to do with “administrative bullying” than freedom of the press, Cohen wrote. “These leaks were made in order to humiliate my client,” he wrote. “Footage of the inside of my client’s home and details of his personal life was certainly taken by police, on this there is no debate,” with the inevitable conclusion that it was police who leaked it intentionally.” If Mandelblit wanted to, said Cohen, he could devise methods to investigate leakers without requiring journalists to give up names – “for example, by confiscation cellphones of suspects, or checking their computers,” exactly as Mandelblit did in his investigations of Netanyahu.
During the height of the investigation – and during the two previous election campaigns – leaks appeared on an almost daily basis. “Your ignoring the massive leaks against my client and your clear intention to do nothing about them broadcasts to the public, and especially to the prosecution that they can get away with anything they want against Netanyahu. We demand that you respond within seven days on how you plan to proceed,” the letter added.