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24.1.03

Sharon Inquiry Leak Triggers Row Over Press Freedom

A row over press freedom has broken out in Israel after authorities threatened to prosecute a newspaper reporter for not revealing the source of a story about the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

On January 7 [Baruch] Kra, a crime reporter, revealed in the left-wing newspaper Ha'aretz that Israeli prosecutors are investigating Mr Sharon for suspected fraud in relation to a secret $US1.5million ($2.5million) payment from a close friend in South Africa.

Mr Sharon initially denied he knew anything about the payment, saying that his son Gilad organises all his finances. He has since refused to answer questions about the matter, dismissing it as an opposition ploy to seize power in Tuesday's elections.

This sounds like Sharon's just dodging the issue, claiming it's a political ploy to avoid defending himself against the content of the accusations. Typical politician stuff. But a bit farther on, we discover that Sharon was exactly right:
Lawyers for Ms Glatt-Berkovich [who leaked the story to Ha'aretz] say she leaked the information for "ideological reasons", because she was concerned that her son was about to be conscripted into the army and she did not want things to carry on as they have done under the hawkish Mr Sharon. Initially placed under house arrest, Ms Glatt-Berkovich is likely to face dismissal and prosecution.

Also typical politician stuff.

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