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(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Tel Aviv District Court rejected an appeal Thursday by a couple from London
who developed a computer virus and used it to spy on a PC belonging to Israeli
thriller writer Amnon Jackont.
The couple appealed against a 2008 Tel
Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruling that found them guilty of counts of invasion of
privacy and defamation against Jackont.
In rejecting the appeal, details
of which were published Friday, the district court ordered Ruth and Michael
Haephrati to pay the compensation imposed by the lower court. The couple will
pay Jackont NIS 400,000 compensation. The court ordered the Haephratis to
pay Jackont a further NIS 40,000 in court costs.
The couple developed a
Trojan horse, a type of computer malware that allowed them to infect and access
a computer belonging to Jackont. Using the malware, the couple invaded Jackont’s
privacy, including by using the computer to send emails with false confessions
to fictitious crimes and to expose sections of a then-unpublished
The affair came to light in 2004, when Jackont found extracts from
an unpublished manuscript of a new novel on various Internet forums, even though
he had never sent the extracts to anyone. Jackont and his wife, Varda, filed a
police complaint, and a subsequent investigation revealed that the novelist’s
computer was infected with a Trojan horse that allowed remote access to his
The police found that Michael Haephrati, the ex-husband of Varda’s
daughter from a previous marriage, wrote the Trojan, and he and Ruth were
arrested in London and extradited to Israel.
The court ruling said that
Michael Haephrati had a bad relationship with Jackont after an acrimonious
divorce from Varda Jackont’s daughter.
Michael had turned a blind eye to
Ruth’s actions against Jackont, the court said.
As a result of the
Haephratis’ actions, sales of Jackont’s novels were lower than they would
otherwise have been, the court found.
The Haephratis appealed the ruling,
saying that the Trojan horse did not have the capabilities to perform the
actions they were found guilty of. The couple also disputed the amount of damage
the court said the offenses caused Jackont.
However, the district court
rejected the appeal, saying that the lower court’s ruling was sound, and noting
that some of the claims raised in the appeal had not been put forth in the first