‘JPost editor forbids mentioning corruption allegations against Jerusalem mayoral candidate’

According to Seventh Eye, Steve Linde told senior journalists at the Jerusalem Post that on the order of the publisher, allegations involving Moshe Leon should not be discussed in reports of the Jerusalem municipal race. Leon’s candidacy is backed by Avigdor Lieberman.

Why did the Jerusalem Post‘s Editor-in-Chief, Steve Linde, instruct his writers not to report on Moshe Leon’s alleged involvement in corruption cases in the 90s? According to a report on the media watch site the Seventh Eye, Linde sent the paper’s senior writers an email informing them that Eli Azur, the Post’s publisher “doesn’t want the corruption allegations to be mentioned in Leon’s case.”

Moshe Leon was chief of staff and economic adviser during Benjamin Netanyahu’s his first term as prime minister. He later replaced Avigdor Lieberman as the head of the Prime Minister’s Office. Leon recently announced his candidacy in the Jerusalem mayoral race (municipal elections are due to take place in Israel this fall). He is backed by Avigdor Lieberman and a coalition of the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Leon, who only moved to Jerusalem in recent months, was under police investigation in the late 90s for his involvement in transferring payments through a proxy named Yigal Amedi to Netanyahu. The police ended up recommending filing charges against him, but the Attorney General at the time, Elyakim Rubinstein (who currently sits on the Supreme Court) decided to close the case. Leon was also interrogated for his involvement with a project run by Martin Schlaff, the Austrian Billionaire who was close to the Sharon family. This case was also later closed.

Linde told the Seventh Eye that the decision not to mention those investigations when reporting on Leon was due to legal concerns: “[The Post’s publisher] Eli Azur told me that there is no ground for these suspicions,” said Linde, “and we don’t want to get into legal troubles.”

The financial paper Calcalist reported in 2010 that the Post’s publisher, Eli Azur, was among the guests at the wedding of Leon’s son.

It should be noted that other reports on Leon in the Hebrew media did mention those investigations, as does his Wikipedia entry. Since Linde allegedly sent his email, the Post published two items on Leon’s candidacy – both of which are pretty positive, and none mentioning his past.