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Michael and Ruth Haephrati, the brains behind the Trojan horse high-tech industrial spying program, are on their way back to Israel from Britain to stand trial, after the couple dropped an appeal against their extradition, the Justice Ministry announced Tuesday.
The Haephratis left Israel several years ago and have been living in Britain and Germany ever since. At Israel's request, British police arrested the couple in May 2005, a few days before their Israeli counterparts released details of the affair to the media on May 29.
The couple is suspected of having developed and sold the Trojan horse high tech spy program to three private investigation companies in Israel, Modi'in Ezrahi, Zvi Krochmal and Philosof-Balali.
The companies allegedly offered the program to industrial and commercial firms to spy on their competitors. It was installed in the victims' computer systems by way of an innocent-looking e-mail attachment.
Companies suspected of using the Trojan horse program included the Meir Group (Volvo-Honda) against Champion Motors, the Tami4 water retailer against Mei Eden, Amdocs against a reporter for the Globes newspaper, Bezeq International against Zahav Lines and Home Center against Ace Hardware.
Several of the suspects in the case are currently standing trial in Tel Aviv District Court.
In November, the daily Yediot Ahronot quoted Haephrati as saying he had received £ 1,700 from Modi'in Ezrahi each time the private investigation company used his program.
In his communiqu , Justice Ministry spokesman Ya'acov Galanti wrote that "the extradition of the Haephratis is very important in the battle against the criminal use of computers and the internet. The fact that the couple is being extradited to Israel - even though they presumably committed their criminal acts in Europe - underlines the fact that crimes such as these are international crimes that know no borders.
"In an era when an action in one country constitutes a crime in another country, it is clear that only efficient cooperation between states makes it possible to fight against them and bring to trial those suspected of committing them."