Ex-police chief Alsheich: Pegasus spying ‘disconnected from reality’

Roni Alsheich was police chief from 2015-2018 and is viewed as having heavily increased the power of the police cyber unit.

Police commissioner Roni Alsheich salutes during a ceremony (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Police commissioner Roni Alsheich salutes during a ceremony
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Former police chief Roni Alsheich made his first on-record statement Wednesday night responding to the Pegasus police cellphone hacking charges.

With a focused air of resentment, the pre-recorded video of Alsheich emphasized that he had “no doubt that the story that was published was disconnected from reality.”

Alsheich said that he had held back responding until now so as not to be seen as interfering with certain unspecified ongoing legal proceedings (likely referring to the trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu), and because the stories published in Calcalist to date have provided “no evidence” or clear basis to even efficiently check the charges.

Counterattacking, the former police chief said the “enormous damage done to the police requires clearer and more comprehensive answers from all the bodies and officials involved.”

He said that he stood by the current police force’s self-probe of the allegations as having “clean hands” and was disappointed that the public does not currently trust the police’s findings.

 FORMER POLICE chief Roni Alsheikh, during whose term the police were said to have increased the use of NSO-style spyware. (credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP via GETTY IMAGES) FORMER POLICE chief Roni Alsheikh, during whose term the police were said to have increased the use of NSO-style spyware. (credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP via GETTY IMAGES)

On Tuesday night, the police presented Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, incoming Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev with a report that out of the 26 names listed by Calcalist as having been hacked by police, only three were targeted, all with proper approvals, and only one was successfully hacked.

He also lashed out at the prior government for failing to appoint a permanent police chief for two years and providing inadequate funding and resources for the police to do their job.

Also on Tuesday, Yediot Aharonot gave an extensive account from representing Alsheich’s narrative, nominally based on “sources close to Alsheich,” but with many assuming that the former police chief himself was the source.

Alsheich was police chief from 2015-2018 and is viewed as having heavily increased the power of the police cyber unit. He was followed by Moti Cohen from 2018-2020 and current Police Chief Kobi Shabtai.