Hearing in Netanyahu Trial Suspended After Phone-Hacking Peport
i24 News – Judges in former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial canceled a court hearing on Monday that was scheduled for the next day.
This gives Israel’s State Prosecutor time to respond to allegations of police using spyware to hack into the phones of crucial witnesses.
The State Prosecutor’s Office has until 2 p.m. on Tuesday to submit its response, after which the judges will convene and discuss how to proceed, Haaretz reported.
Attorneys filed the petition asking for a suspension following a report Monday morning that Israel’s Police used the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to hack into the phones of several public figures including protest leaders, journalists, mayors, governments employees, and associates of Netanyahu – including co-defendants and key witnesses in the trial.
Shlomo Filber, a key state witness and Netanyahu confidant, is expected to begin his testimony for Case 4000 on Wednesday or the following Friday.
The Israel Securities Authority rebuked a report that Filber’s phone was accessed by spyware, stating that his phone was seized with a warrant, not bugged or hacked.
In this case, the former premier is accused of promoting regulations favorable to the telecommunications group Bezeq, owned by Shaul Elovitch. In exchange for these services, the then-CEO of Walla reportedly guaranteed good coverage of the prime minister and his wife.
Netanyahu spoke out about police-spying allegations Monday night, calling it a “dark day for Israeli democracy,” according to The Times of Israel.
He compared spyware use to the military “using planes meant to be used against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas to blow up Israeli civilians.”
“They exposed citizens, followed them, listened in on them, and got into their most buried secrets. Who knows what improprieties they used it for? A spying application meant to be used against terror and to fight our enemies turned into an everyday tool for police to spy on civilians, against every law and norm,” Netanyahu said, following the reports.