Judicial privilege:
Demand to reveal ties between judges and journalists

Supreme Court decision to reveal Netanyahu-Adelson minutes brings 20 demands to reveal meeting schedules of judges, politicians, journalists

Mordechai Sones ,

Money and politics
Money and politics

The Movement for Governance and Democracy submitted some twenty freedom of information requests seeking to reveal judge's schedules and minutes of meetings with politicians and the press, in light of the precedent-setting Supreme Court ruling requiring the Prime Minister to publish his meetings with senior Israeli newspaper officials.

According to the movement's members, the court's decision, led by Judge Many Mazzouz, opens the possibility of exposing information that authorities have so far refrained from publishing.

The Supreme Court justices ruled in the appeal filed by journalist Raviv Drucker that the public interest in the requested information overrides the right to privacy of the people with whom the talks were held.

Following the principles determined by the judges, representatives of the Movement for Governance and Democracy approached the court administration with requests for information under the Freedom of Information Law. All 15 Supreme Court justices are requested to provide their diaries, including schedules of meetings, identities of persons with whom they met, and the subject of the meetings, from the beginning of 2016 until today.

In addition, the Movement for Governance and Democracy asks the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut, to provide details of the dates of her talks and meetings with journalists from Israel and abroad, as well as the dates of the talks and meetings with past and present government ministers.

At the same time, the movement applied to the Office of the Attorney General with a request under the Freedom of Information Law, asking for the full schedule of their Legal Advisor, as well as meetings of Dina Silber, Raz Nizri, Erez Kaminitz, and Avi Licht. Officials from the State Comptroller's Office are requested to provide receive similar information by which they will submit their full diaries as well as the dates of conversations and meetings with journalists. The request to the State Comptroller's Office was addressed to the State Comptroller himself, the Director General of the State Comptroller's Office, and the Legal Advisor to the State Comptroller's Office.

"The Supreme Court's precedent-setting ruling gives little weight to the constitutional right to privacy with respect to the benefit of public interest as judges see it," attorney Simcha Rotman, Legal Advisor of the Movement says. "The standard set by the judges must be uniform to all roles in the government system, including the justices of the Supreme Court."

The movement noted that a petition was being filed in the Jerusalem District Court by the Movement for Government and Democracy against Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, who refused a Freedom of Information request by the movement demanding she publish the recommendations and protocols of the "Committee of the Two", which filters for Naor judicial candidates and operates bereft of transparency.

According to law there are nine members of the committee, but according to Naor's directive, members of the ministerial committee, Knesset members, and representatives of the Israel Bar Association are not allowed to be independently impressed by the candidates, rather the only avenue for promotion of judges passes through Naor and through the secret 'Committee of the Two'.