Couple Who Created 'Trojan Horse' Virus Sentenced to Jail

Assaf carmel, Haaretz Correspondent
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Assaf carmel, Haaretz Correspondent

The Tel Aviv District Court Monday sentenced Ruth and Michael Haefrati to four and two years inprisonment, respectively, for the development of the "Trojan horse" virus that was used for corporate espionage.

The Haefratis admitted to the charges against them in a plea bargain two weeks ago. The prosecutor and defense attorney jointly asked the court to agree to the sentences.

It was also agreed that the convicted couple pay NIS 1 million to each of the victims of the corporate spying.

Under the plea bargain, Ruth Haefrati admitted to fraud, computer virus insertion, covert wiretapping and invasion of privacy. Her husband, Michael, admitted to having been an accomplice to the same crimes.

The prosecutor said that the evidence points to Ruth as the motivating force behind the relationships with the private investigation companies which made use of the virus. Her husband seems to have played a background role.

The Haefratis attorney told the judge that his clients are gifted people who became involved in criminal acts, although their original intent was to market the program to security forces. He added that in early 2005, a short time before their apprehension, the couple were in advanced marketing negotiations with Israeli Police.

Towards the end of the trial Ruth Haefrati asked for "the public's forgiveness in general, and the business sector in particular." She became emotional when speaking about the couple's forced separation from their daughter. She also asked her husband's forgiveness, "for ruining his life's work, which was of pure intent."

Varda Raziel and Amnon Jacont, whose infected computer led to the discovery of the virus, were present at the sentence hearing. Raziel, Michael Haefrati's ex-fiance, was unhappy with the sentence.

"Ruth Haefrati's story, in which it was she who ruined her husband's life work, is unfounded. I have no doubt he was the force behind the affair. He always acts and then hides behind others," Raziel said.