Right-wing activist convicted of wiretapping

Avigdor Eskin hired private eyes to spy on Russian-Israeli businessman Michael Cherney.

Court gavel justice judge legal law 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Court gavel justice judge legal law 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Under a plea bargain, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday convicted far-right activist Avigdor Eskin of ordering the illegal wiretapping of associates of Uzbek- Israeli businessman Michael Cherney.
The plea bargain includes a penalty of six months of community service, probation and a fine of NIS 20,000.
However Judge Cjana Miriam Lomp ruled that the court will hear sentencing arguments at a later date.
According to the original indictment, filed in January by the State Attorney’s office, Eskin was contacted in 2007 by a Russian citizen, Alexei Drobashenko, who asked him to gather information about Cherney in order to use it in a smear campaign.
Eskin then contacted Aviv Mor, a private investigator, who together with another PI, Rafael Pridan, carried out wiretaps against Cherney’s secretary Elena Skir and another of Cherney’s associates, the indictment contended.
The indictment further charged that Eskin was the link between Mor and Pridan and Drobashenko, that he paid them each NIS 50,000 in cash for their services and that he also received Hebrew translations of the wiretapped conversations.
In a previous trial in January 2010, Mor was convicted of wiretapping under a plea bargain. Pridan was also convicted under a plea bargain of illegal wiretapping in March.
Cherney, an Uzbek-born Israeli entrepreneur, has previously claimed that the wiretapping case is linked to a civil suit, this time in London.
The businessman is currently suing another business rival, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in the Commercial Court of the High Court in London. Cherney is seeking a 13 percent stake in UC RUSAL, a multinational aluminum producer. The trial is expected to go ahead in April 2012, and the judge has ruled that Cherney may give testimony from Israel.
In a statement after private investigator Mor’s conviction in 2010, Cherney alleged that a smear campaign had been launched against him in connection with that lawsuit by Deripaska, for whom Drobashenko worked.