Arkadi Gaydamak 88 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hours after every major newspaper ran a full-page ad Sunday from billionaire social activist Arkadi Gaydamak in which he protested his innocence in the face of what he described as police and prosecutorial persecution, the police and Justice Ministry responded with a joint statement.
"We are sorry for an additional instance in which Mr. Gaydamak has chosen to disparage workers in the law enforcement system on a personal level," the two organizations wrote.
Gaydamak's letter in the ad cited three people - Police Intelligence and Investigations Division chief Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, prosecutor Ella Rubinek and Justice Ministry employee Yitzhak Blum - for "illegal actions against me" and for providing "a living example of detrimental abuse of one's position."
Gaydamak accused the three of violating his civil rights, and said that "by defending my civil rights from their illegal action, I am also defending the civil rights of all citizens."
Police said in response: "It is fitting to emphasize that [Gaydamak's comments] will not deter or weaken the hands of those who work in law enforcement, nor the hands of those who make decisions on matters concerning Mr. Gaydamak."
Both law enforcement organizations wrote that they stood behind their three employees and had "full faith in their devoted and pertinent work."
This is not the first such skirmish between Gaydamak and Danino on a newsprint battlefield. In October 2006, following a fiery exchange of press interviews by both Gaydamak and Danino, Gaydamak took out full-page ads in which he said that Danino had invented the Bank Hapoalim affair and that he was carrying out a "hunting expedition" with political undertones against the well-known businessman.
Police said Gaydamak's statements "bordered on criminal." In response, Gaydamak called on police to sue him if his statements were libelous, but no such action was taken.
Police investigators had recommended that Gaydamak be charged in connection with alleged laundering of some $50 million through a Tel Aviv branch of Bank Hapoalim, where a wider money-laundering affair involving dozens of businessmen and bank employees has been investigated since February 2005. But in January 2007, they said he was not the subject of any criminal investigation.