Uri Blau (Hebrew: אורי בלאו, born 1977) is an Israeli journalist and currently an investigative reporter for the Haaretz newspaper, specializing in military affairs and exposing corruption. He was convicted of possession of classified IDF documents and sentenced to community service for his role in the Kamm-Blau affair.
Blau began his journalistic career in Kol Ha'ir, a Jerusalem weekly newspaper. He specialized in exposing cases of misconduct by IDF soldiers. Unlike other military correspondents, he did not join the Military Reporters Section and tended to rely on low-ranking enlisted personal, rather than high-ranking officers.
In 2005 Blau joined the daily Haaretz and published a few articles claiming to expose corruption by Ehud Olmert, then leader of Kadima Party, candidate for Prime Minister and later Prime Minister. This exposé has led to a criminal investigation and to Olmert's indictment. Another investigation was regarding Avigdor Liberman, head of Israel Beitenu party, which claimed that he used a company nominally owned by his daughter, who was in her early twenties, to obtain large payments.
Anat Kamm affair
In November 2008, Blau published a story in Haaretz saying that the targeted killing of one of two Islamic Jihad militants killed in Jenin in June 2007 had violated a prior ruling of the Supreme Court of Israel. The ruling had "heavily restricted the circumstances in which they were permissible, effectively saying that killing should not take place if arrest was possible." The report reproduced two IDF memos classified as top secret, indicating that the IDF had ignored the Supreme Court ruling. Publications dealing with military affairs have to be submitted to the Israeli Military Censor; the censor approved the publication of this report. This fact would later be used as argument that no damage was done by the publication.
Speculation began immediately about who Blau's inside source was. It took a year before attention focused on Anat Kamm, a former clerk in the office of a senior IDF commander. She had worked as a journalist before and after her military service.
A week before Operation Cast Lead began (December 2008), Blau submitted to the censor an expose revealing he had possession of IDF military plans for the Operation. At first, the report was approved for publication. Then, just before it was distributed the censor changed its mind and Haaretz agreed to withdraw the story.
Arrest of Anat Kamm
In the year, leading up to Kamm's arrest, Blau also published another article regarding Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi. The reporter claimed that Barak, on becoming minister, had transferred his private consulting company to his three daughters, violating the regulation allowing such a transfer only if the daughters were actually employed by the company. Furthermore, the company which he gave to his daughters took in nearly $2-million from unknown sources after he entered the government. Blau also claimed that after leaving the army and joining the private sector, Ashkenazi approached Barak about entering into business with him.
In September 2009, the Shin Bet negotiated a written agreement with Blau to hand over 50 classified documents and destroy his work computer. In return the IDF agreed not to pursue or prosecute his source. In December 2009, the Shin Bet secretly arrested Anat Kamm and began interrogating her. Eventually, she was accused of leaking as many as 2,000 documents to the reporter. Blau and Haaretz viewed the soldier's arrest as a violation of their agreement.
Blau, who had left Israel on an Asian backpacking trip that same month of Kamm's arrest, decided to remain abroad pending resolution of the case and eventually ended up in London. The Shin Bet publicly announced that they want to question and perhaps prosecute him. He claimed journalistic privilege and refused to return until he has guarantees about the outcome of his case.
On October 24, 2010 Uri Blau returned to Israel.
Israelis have exhibited mixed feelings about Blau. Some view him as little better than a traitor out to harm the national security. Others support his work. A group of 12 senior Israeli journalists petitioned the government not to prosecute Blau if he returns from London and gives back any outstanding documents he may still possess.
Indictment of Blau
- See for example
- Uri Blau, Haaretz, 27 November 2008, License to kill
- The Guardian, 2 April 2010, Israeli journalist Anat Kam under secret house arrest since December
- The Independent, 2 April 2010, Journalist on the run from Israel is hiding in Britain
- Hebrew report in Nana 10, 9 April 2010
- Uri Blau, Haaretz 15 October 2009, Ehud Barak & Co.
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12 April 2010, Shin Bet details efforts to bring Blau back to Israel
- Los Angeles Times, 14 April 2010, Case involving military documents roils Israel
- HaAretz, 23 March 2011, Journalist Uri Blau to be put on trial subject to hearing
- Journalist Uri Blau to be indicted Journalist implicated in Anat Kam affair to be charged with unauthorized possession of confidential information. State says Blau falsely made it appear he had returned all secret documents he had obtained
- Haaretz journalist Uri Blau to be indicted for possession of classified IDF documents
- "Israel reporter sentenced over secret army papers". AFP. September 3, 2012.