Key State Witness Against Netanyahu: 'My Testimony Is Pure Truth'

Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu's former media adviser who turned state's evidence, is being pressured by the premier and his inner circle to retract his testimony, his lawyer says

Nir Hefetz, who turned state's evidence against Benjamin Netanyahu, in court on November 10, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Nir Hefetz, who turned state’s evidence in one of the corruption cases into Prime Minister Netanyahu, insisted Sunday that his testimony would be proved true in court.

Hefetz, a former media adviser for Netanyahu, was speaking at a hearing on a request to lift a gag order on the methods the police have used in interrogating Hefetz.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 48Haaretz

The affair in question is the police’s Case 4000, in which Netanyahu has been accused in a draft indictment of trading regulatory favors for positive coverage on the Walla news site.

“My testimony is the pure truth,” Hefetz said. “I’m convinced that if we go to trial its reliability will be established.”

Hefetz complained that the hearing was not being held with the media and public excluded; his lawyer said the prime minister was applying pressure so that Hefetz would retract his testimony.

Hefetz shouted at the judge, Alaa Masarwa: “The journalists here are publishing everything. Have you decided to kill me? Please do! I’m out of here.” He then stormed out of the hearing but later returned and the proceedings continued.

Hefetz’s attorney Ilan Sofer added that “none other than the prime minister of Israel is exerting pressure so that the witness retracts his testimony .... It should be investigated whether illegal pressure has been applied and how this has affected Nir.”

Last week, Channel 12 News intended to publish the police’s methods for interrogating Hefetz, but the police blocked this effort. A few days later, Justice Minister Amir Ohana discussed the methods from the Knesset podium.

Ohana said officers who interrogated Hefetz brought in “a young woman who had nothing to do with the prime minister investigations” and asked her intrusive questions about the nature of her relationship with him.

State prosecutors have defended the decision to keep the gag order in place, saying the public would not be able to form an opinion on the investigation based on fragmented information.

Judge Masarwa raised the possibility that the gag order could be softened to let the public consider whether there was a link between Hefetz’s signing of the state’s evidence deal and the interrogation methods.

Attorney Tamir Glick, who represented Haaretz at the hearing, said there was no desire to publish the entire testimony. “Privacy is a relative matter that must give way to the public interest,” he said.

Hefetz burst out: “Why isn’t this hearing held in camera? Everything is leaking out here! It’s total anarchy!”

Hefetz later shouted out to the judge that Channel 13 reporter Aviad Glickman was improperly posting on Twitter as the hearing was taking place.

“You’re shedding my blood,” Hefetz told the judge. “Put it in the minutes: The court is leading me to the gallows.”

An attorney representing the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, Itzhak Bam, said Hefetz’s privacy had already been compromised, so the gag order should be lifted because it was preventing a discussion on the police’s conduct.