When leaks hurt Netanyahu’s prosecution: analysis

Leaks of criminal investigations to the media are always illegal.

However, as of Tuesday, the leaks against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his trial for public corruption may not only be illegal, but may be causing real harm to the prosecution.

How do we get here?

Rewinding, there was some sense that when Netanyahu was still prime minister and his close associates had potential influence over state prosecution and the police, that leaking to the media could be a way for the police to make sure that the case would go to trial.

Even if the leaks are generally bad, there is some history and basis for leaks to the media to prevent a nation’s most powerful authorities from covering up their allegedly illegal activities.

Simply put, if you make enough noise, a cover-up becomes difficult, if not impossible.

This is how the Washington Post defeated attempts by former US President Richard Nixon to cover up his illegal activities against his political opponents.

If you don’t, sometimes bad people with power can make their bad deeds go away.

Even then, the leaks against Netanyahu probably continued for too long and at too high a volume (by November 2020 there had already been more than 100 different leaks).

Furthermore, many of them did not contribute to proving the charges and were simply designed to be politically embarrassing to Netanyahu.

Many of the leaks occurred after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit already filed an indictment against the prime minister in January 2020.

Benjamin Netanyahu attends a plenary session and a vote on the state budget in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on November 3, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI / FLASH90)

So what was the purpose of the leaks?

Perhaps it could be argued that because there was concern that Netanyahu would use the coronavirus crisis to indefinitely delay his trial, more noise was needed to make sure this did not happen.

But after a two-month delay from March 2020 to May 2020, Netanyahu’s trial proceeded.

What was the purpose of the many leaks after that date?

By April this year, witnesses were called. The true essence of the trial before a three-judge panel was to move forward, if not at the speed of light, at a steady pace.

As of mid-June this year, Netanyahu was no longer even prime minister.

How can anyone justify leaking criminal investigations to the media, and before defense attorneys even see the evidence, at this point?

The judges were horrified Tuesday and clearly felt personally harmed, as the leaks could lead to questioning the fairness of the trial itself.

The deputy state prosecutor, Liat Ben Ari, said he was similarly horrified.

His message seemed to be that the new evidence was not necessary to win any of the three cases against Netanyahu and had put the prosecution in an impossible-to-win situation: to ignore new evidence or to present it at a terrible moment that smacks of politicizing the process.

Perhaps the judges would have delayed Hefetz’s testimony anyway simply because of the new evidence.

But sitting in court on Tuesday, it seemed that had there been no media leaks, the judges might have forced the defense to take the hit, as there was no obvious connection between the new evidence and Hefetz’s testimony.

On the contrary, the leak seemed to infuriate both them and the defense who seemed to concede that the postponement was a way to get some blood out of the leakers.

This leak and any future leaks mid-trial could further enrage the judges and potentially turn them against the prosecution, whom the court harshly reprimanded (despite denials that they made any of the leaks).

Whoever is leaking at this late date is no longer helping to speak the truth to power and it is quite possible that they are hurting the prosecution’s case against Netanyahu.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *