‘Trojan Horse’ couple to compensate novelist

Court rules Ruth and Michael Haephrati to pay Amnon Jackont NIS 400,000 for invasion of privacy after appeal rejected.

hacking hackers computer hacking [illustrative]_370 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
hacking hackers computer hacking [illustrative]_370
(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by using the computer to send emails with false confessions to fictitious crimes and to expose sections of a then-unpublished novel.
The affair came to light in 2004, when Jackont found extracts from an unpublished manuscript of a new novel on various Internet forums, even though he had never sent the extracts to anyone.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 PC.
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 trial.