Spying on Obama Officials: Source Says Israeli Black Cube Hired by Business Entity, Not Trump

Source refutes allegations that Trump associates hired the intelligence agency to snoop on aides who worked on the Iran nuclear deal

Then-President Barack Obama discussing his speech to the UN General Assembly with Ben Rhodes in New York, September 2011.
Pete Souza / The White House

Israeli intelligence company Black Cube was hired to spy on former aides in the Obama administration last year. A source close to the company says that the Israeli intelligence company was acting on behalf of a business entity, however, and not on behalf U.S. President Donald Trump’s aides.

A source close to the company said the purpose of its data collection was to serve the client’s business or legal interests, and had nothing to do with Trump. The source also said correspondence regarding Iranian nuclear issues related to the business interests of the client who hired the spy firm.

He added that neither the Iranian nuclear program nor Barack Obama associates were at the heart of the intelligence gathering operation: Any mention of them was intended purely to buy the trust of the parties, in order to obtain information not connected to Iran.

However, the source refused to say who hired Black Cube.

Black Cube engages in business espionage and producing evidence for court cases. It does not spy on behalf of governments, the source said.

British newspaper The Observer had reported Sunday that Trump aides hired the firm last summer to “get dirt” on former Obama administration officials who had been involved in crafting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

But the source rejected the accusation that Black Cube spied in connection with the Iranian nuclear agreement. In fact, the entire affair was concerned with a completely different business matter, he noted.

If the identity of the party hiring the agency ever gets revealed, he added, the people now claiming it was about the Iranian deal will have to apologize.

According to the source, Black Cube hasn’t done government work since it worked for a Romanian government body and became embroiled in a fight between law enforcement authorities in Romania.

Black Cube was founded by Dr. Avi Yanus and Dan Zorella in 2010, and has been linked to several scandals in recent years. It was hired by Harvey Weinstein last July, to investigate several women who had accused the Hollywood producer of sexual assault and the journalists working on the stories.

It has also been linked with Cambridge Analytica by Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge employee-turned-whistleblower who said Black Cube had been hired to hack the personal data of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari prior to his election. Cambridge denied Black Cube was the espionage agency it worked with.

In an official response to the Iran allegations on Sunday, Black Cube denied any involvement.

“It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work,” the company said.

“Referencing Black Cube has become an international sport during 2018,” it added. “Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran nuclear deal. Anyone who claims otherwise is misleading their readers and viewers.

“Luckily,” the statement added, “the Mossad and CIA are capable to [sic] deal with the Iran Nuclear deal and other issues of national security without relying on the expertise of Black Cube.”

Black Cube also said it works strictly in compliance with the law everywhere it operates, and based on legal opinions from the world’s leading law firms.