Netanyahu's lawyers seek to open criminal probe into leaks against PM

A letter said that "propaganda television channels are brain-washing [viewers] with a constant stream of false and non-contextual leaks from the criminal probes."

By
January 23, 2019 19:59
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense team have sent a letter on Wednesday to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding he order a criminal probe into the anti-Netanyahu evidence and unflattering details being leaked nearly daily, allegedly by law enforcement.

Recent days and weeks have seen numerous leaks of a variety of anti-Netanyahu evidence relating to his public corruption cases, from text messages to diary notes.

In the letter, the prime minister’s defense team argued it was not only unfair but criminal for law enforcement to be leaking details relating to Netanyahu’s public corruption cases to the public and the media.

Netanyahu’s lawyers cited past cases to Mandelblit of leaks to the media regarding public corruption cases which led to criminal prosecution.

Simultaneously, Netanyahu himself released a video on Facebook in which he said that “propaganda television channels are brain-washing [viewers] with a constant stream of false and non-contextual leaks from the criminal probes.”

Netanyahu said that those leaking the material could face up to three years in jail.

Further, he said, “For the media, all methods are kosher in order to force a leftist government on the nation against its will. This will not work for them if you do not let them. The answer – only the voting booths” should determine who governs the nation.
The Justice Ministry had not responded to the request at press time.

Netanyahu took out ads on the websites of Channels 12 and 13 such that visitors going to watch the news online would first see his video in which he disparaged them.

The ads only appeared online because it is illegal for election campaigns to buy TV airtime.

Tensions between Netanyahu’s camp and law enforcement have escalated dramatically since the prime minister moved for early elections and there have been indications that Mandelblit will announce an intent to indict Netanyahu before the April 9 election.

Also, late Wednesday night, Channel 13 reported that sources close to Netanyahu were accusing State Attorney Shai Nitzan of being one of the primary forces trying to get Mandelblit to announce an intent to indict Netanyahu before the election.

According to Channel 13, these sources accuse Nitzan of wanting a legacy of having taken down the prime minister.

Nitzan was intimately involved with aspects of the cases against former prime minister Ehud Olmert – meaning he has already been involved in taking down a prime minister.

In addition, Nitzan aggressively pushed back in the past against many who wanted Netanyahu indicted as long as a year ago.

That was true at least up until December, when Nitzan announced that the prosecution would start marathon meetings with Mandelblit to wrap up decisions regarding Netanyahu’s criminal probes.

Netanyahu announced early elections shortly after Nitzan’s announcement.

The Justice Ministry rejected any accusations against Nitzan.

The Jerusalem Post questioned Netanyahu’s spokesman about the Channel 13 report and the spokesman vehemently declared that the report was fake news and that they had not directly attack Nitzan.

Netanyahu’s own team have generally been careful not to directly attack top prosecution officials like Nitzan or Mandelblit, though some Likud surrogates have been less careful.

Pressed by the Post regarding this denial, Channel 13 was just as vehement that its sources were close to Netanyahu and not mere Likud MKs functioning as surrogates.

Channel 13 also continued damaging reports for Netanyahu from the diary of former Netanyahu-aide turned state’s witness, Nir Hefetz.

For example, Channel 13 stated that Hefetz’s diary included a May 2010 entry indicating that he and other Netanyahu advisers, including PMO legal adviser Shlomit Barnea-Fargo, viewed actions by an electrician affiliated with the Netanyahus, Avi Fahima, as criminal.

This was significant because Sara Netanyahu was criminally probed for using Fahima’s services despite having been told that a conflict of interest prevented her from doing so.

While Mandelblit ultimately closed that probe without an indictment, Channel 13 implied that Hefetz’s diary suggested that Sara Netanyahu may have committed criminal conduct which the probe did not uncover.

In one example, Channel 13 reported that Sara was making efforts to have the state pay for expenses of the Netanyahu family from when Netanyahu was still in the opposition, and was not entitled to claim expenses.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this story.

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