The head of a haredi website under investigation for the alleged extortion of
members of the Orthodox community was released to house arrest on
The suspect, who cannot be named, appeared before the Jerusalem
Magistrate’s Court, where he accused police of painting a “demonic picture” of
him and presenting him as a “dangerous person.” The comments came after the
police representative to court, Ronen Mizrahi, said police had a recording of a
phone conversation involving the website’s director-general, in which he said,
“If I hear the name of the person claiming he was extorted one more time I will
send people to murder his children.”
According to the suspicions, the
director- general of the Hadrei Haredim news site and three employees extorted
members of the haredi community, threatening to publish content that would
damage their reputations if large sums were not paid to them. Police believe the
suspects extorted millions of shekels in this manner.
Under the terms of
the release, the suspect is forbidden from having any links to his website or
its employees during his house arrest.
Speaking before the court, the
suspect cast doubt on the police’s ability to convert the investigation into
charges that would stick in court.
But Mizrahi said that the more police
delved into the case, “the more we reach the clear conclusion that the suspect
allegedly carried out the offenses attributed to him. There is no indictment
[yet] because there is much more work to be done, and I’m stating that there
will be an indictment.”
Last week, the suspect’s attorney, Yehoshua
Raznik, accused police of conducting a vindictive investigation because the site
published an anti-police poster showing Jerusalem district police chief, Cmdr.
Niso Shaham, in an SS uniform.
The publication came during the height of
tensions between members of the haredi community and police in Beit Shemesh
earlier this year.
“You are here on behalf of the district commander and
making harsh claims because of this publication,” Raznik told the police
representative to court.