Ex-deputy FM Ayalon testifies against his ex-boss Avigdor Lieberman in ‘ambassador affair’ case saying Lieberman pushed Ben Aryeh’s appointment for Latvia ambassadorship
By Aviel Magnezi
Former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon testified on Thursday against former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in the latter’s trial on charges of fraud and breach of trust in the “ambassador affair.”
In his testimony, Ayalon recalled his meeting with Lieberman before the appointment committee’s meeting which appointed Ben Aryeh: “I was in his office, we discussed political matters and by the end of the talk he told me that Ben Aryeh must be appointed to the Riga post.”
Ayalon and Lieberman’s relationship has cooled significantly after the former was ousted from the Yisrael Beiteinu party list.
Though the two stood close to each other at the entrance to the court, they did not shake hands and only briefly nodded to each other in recognition.
Lieberman is accused of pushing Ben Aryeh’s appointment to the post of ambassador in Latvia in 2004 without reporting the information he received from him during the nomination process.
Ben Aryeh was convicted of unauthorized disclosure of information and obstruction of justice as part of a plea bargain for tipping off Lieberman about details pertaining to an investigation into his financial dealings.
Lieberman, who entered a plea of “Not guilty on all counts,” has consistently denied he discussed the issue with Ben Aryeh.
Talking to Ynet on Wednesday, Ayalon was careful not to mention the contents of his testimony so as to not obstruct legal proceedings, but made it clear he does not intend to change his version of events.
“I’ll definitely not answer ‘I don’t recall’,” Ayalon jibed at the previous witnesses’ versions in court.
“I remember clearly. I’ll answer fully, conscientiously and directly, and present the facts as I experienced them.”
Former ambassador Ben Aryeh testified he does not remember many details, especially regarding the night in which he met Lieberman and disclosed information to him concerning the ongoing investigation against him.
Former members of the appointment committee Yossi Gal and Shimon Roded also said in their testimonies they do not recall whether Lieberman’s associates approached them regarding Ben Aryeh’s post, as Ayalon testified to the police.
No interest in revenge
Ayalon was dismissed from the Yisrael Beiteinu list before the last elections. But he said his motives in testifying against his former boss are pure.
“I have no interest in revenge. Just as I respected the rules of the political game, and knew the mechanism for entering the list, I also knew the mechanism for being cast out of it,” he told Ynet.
“I accepted both sides with dignity – I wasn’t hurt; not financially, not in reputation and not emotionally.”
So far four testimonies were heard in the ongoing trial: Apart from Gal and Roded, Ben Aryeh has also testified and contradicted his previous version given to the police when he claimed he did not talk to Lieberman about the investigation against him, but only gave him a note.
Victor Harel, former general supervisor for the Foreign Ministry, mentioned in his testimony a document he composed criticizing Ben Aryeh’s performance as ambassador to Belarus.
He claimed the appointment committee was aware of the document, as well as Lieberman himself.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4375177,00.html