Netanyahu takes a stand on right to privacy amid lawsuits

Netanyahu’s attorneys asked a larger panel of judges to review the Supreme Court decision requiring him to hand over to Channel 10 records of his telephone conversations with Sheldon Adelson.

August 22, 2017 13:35
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally.. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

In light of multiple Freedom of Information lawsuits aimed at him and his family, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a stand for the right to privacy, petitioning the High Court of Justice.

Netanyahu’s personal attorneys asked a larger panel of judges on Tuesday to review the Supreme Court decision from earlier this month requiring him to hand over to Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker records of his telephone conversations with Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson, and the free daily’s former editorin- chief Amos Regev. The State Attorney’s Office refused to represent Netanyahu in the case, Army Radio reported.

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Drucker’s goal in getting the phone records is to draw a connection between the prime minister and the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, whereas Netanyahu argued that his conversations with Adelson and Regev were private and unrelated to Israel Hayom. The court had said that while private conversations are generally beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Law, the public interest overcomes the right to privacy in this case, especially in light of Drucker’s request to only know the times of the phone calls and not their content.

Netanyahu family spokesman Nir Hefetz said the prime minister still plans to release his phone records, “for the simple reason that he has nothing to hide,” but that he wants to fight the precedent the ruling set, which he argues limits the right to privacy.

Hefetz did not, however, respond as to when Netanyahu will release the phone records.

“In the short time since the ruling was publicized, we have become witness to a massive wave of attempts to reveal private telephone conversations and schedules of civil servants and elected officials, and this is only the beginning,” Hefetz said.

“The prime minister gives a great importance on principle to the basic right to privacy... It is unacceptable that ministers, MKs, judges and civil servants will have to expose their private conversations to journalists and others.”

The petition comes two days after Maariv reporter Ben Caspit won a Freedom of Information lawsuit requiring the Jerusalem Municipality to release the work hours of the prime minister’s wife, Sarah Netanyahu, whom they employ as a child psychologist.

The lawyers’ petition points to a legal precedent from the US, in which it was determined that telephone slips and personal appointment calendars do not fall under the category of the Freedom of Information Act, but public officials’ daily agendas, which are used by office staff, do.

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