Police dismiss Olmert probe reports

Police spokesperson: Ha'aretz report about pro-Israel activist Tzur "hallucinatory" and wrong.

olmert thumbs-up 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert thumbs-up 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Police dismissed several reports on Wednesday evening claiming that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's son Shaul has been questioned by detectives from the National Fraud Unit in recent days, and that prominent pro-Israel media activist Sharon Tsur has been interrogated in New York, both in connection with the Talansky investigation. "As we approach Morris Talansky's cross examination on July 17, these claims will get more and more creative," a National Fraud Unit spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman described the claim that Tsur had been questioned by police investigators in New York, which appeared in a Haaretz report on Wednesday, as "hallucinatory. It's totally wrong." Also on Wednesday, Channel 2 reported that Olmert's former legal partner and longtime close associate Uri Messer had complicated the prime minister's case by backing Talansky's version of events in his testimony to police. The Fraud Unit would not comment on the report, other than to say that it "absolutely did not come from us." A media war has broken out between Olmert's aides and police, after news broke on Tuesday that the prime minister would be questioned for a third time on Friday at his Jerusalem residence. A report in Ma'ariv on Wednesday claimed that Olmert had confessed to receiving two envelopes from Talansky, but said they were filled with hundreds of dollars. Talansky said during a court appearance in May that he had given Olmert $150,000 dollars in envelopes over 15 years. "Talansky can't communicate with the police or the state prosecutors before his cross-examination," Amir Dan, Olmert's newly hired PR representative, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "We are in the absurd situation in which police are using the media to bypass this restriction and send messages to Talansky, preparing him for his cross-examination. They are guiding him and coordinating his testimony though these media reports. At the start of the investigation, the police forbade Olmert from commenting out of a fear that he would pervert the course of the investigation. But now police are perverting the investigation," Dan said. "I have worked with state prosecutors, I know how these things work. Sometimes, reports will be released and made to look like they come from the police. But in this case, 90 percent of these reports are coming from the police, and I am sure that this will increase with time. I won't be surprised if they leak information from the investigation," Dan said. Police said in a statement, "We reject and view with severity all attempts to link the police to leaks from the investigation into the prime minister. These are recycled reports, and we regret this conduct, which is aimed at distracting attention from the main issues." Talansky failed to appear for a second court hearing in New York Wednesday on assault charges involving a dispute with his dentist. The Long Island businessman's lawyer, Anthony Colleluori, said Talansky could not appear because he was in Israel where he will be questioned next week. The hearing was adjourned. Talansky, 75, faces third-degree assault charges, a misdemeanor, for allegedly attacking his longtime dentist Leonard Barashick, 84, at a dental lab over a financial dispute last year. Michal Lando in New York contributed to this report.