Former Olmert Aide Chief Off House Arrest

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Shula Zaken, former bureau chief of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was released from house arrest Friday, but she is still forbidden to talk with Olmert after police began investigating bribery allegations against the prime minister.

Last week, police attempted to question Zaken four times and they plan to try again this week.

"She knows very well what the fact that she is keeping quiet means, an unnamed police source told the Israeli daily Haaretz.

"It has been made clear to her that her silence reinforces the suspicions against Olmert, who, without her, cannot refute the allegations against him," he said.

"Thus far, however, she has not assisted the investigators," he added.

In the prime minister's first public statement following a partial lifting of a media gag order in Israel, Olmert said he turned over all the monies from American Morris Talansky to his former law partner and business associate Uri Messer.

"I have no doubt that attorney Messer managed this money to the best of his professional ability," Olmert said, "and I presume that he did so within the limits of the law," he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview on Israel's Channel 10, Talansky, 75, said he thought his funds were used for Olmert's mayoral campaign.

"[I] never thought in any way that the money I gave him -- it was for the purpose of his becoming mayor or electioneering -- was in any way illegal or wrong," he said.

"I have absolutely nothing to cover or to hide," he said.

While the court-ordered ban on the media was partially lifted, National Fraud Unit investigators are trying to piece together the facts away from the media spotlight.

"You can't imagine how tightly we are guarding the secrecy of the investigation," a spokeswoman for the National Fraud Unit said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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