Senior Likud Officials Suspected of Harassing State Witness in Netanyahu Corruption Case

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Jonatan Urich
Jonatan Urich Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Officials from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party are suspected of harassing Shlomo Filber, who turned state's evidence in one of the corruption cases against the prime minister.

The officials who have been questioned in recent days by the police's anti-corruption unit include the Netanyahu and Likud spokesman Jonathan Urich and Netanyahu’s media adviser, Ofer Golan.

The investigation was opened following a complaint that during one of this year's two election campaigns a car was parked outside Filber’s home. Using a loudspeaker, people in the vehicle allegedly called out to Filber “Momo, be a man. Come out, tell the truth,” “Momo Filber, what did they do to you to make you lie against the prime minister? What did they promise you?” and “Momo, the left is using you to bring down Likud.”

The case in question is Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for taking steps that benefited Bezeq telecommunications shareholder Shaul Elovitch in return for favorable coverage on Bezeq’s Walla news site.

Filber was a director general of the Communications Ministry under Netanyahu and was arrested last year on suspicion of promoting Bezeq’s interests from within the ministry. He signed a state's evidence agreement and told the police that his actions were based on Netanyahu’s orders. He said Netanyahu urged him to fire the ministry's deputy director general.

Attorney Amit Hadad, who represents Golan as well as Netanyahu, said in a statement that the allegations are baseless.

"While Mr. Golan is forbidden from commenting on the issue so as not to obstruct the investigation, investigation materials are being illegally leaked," Hadad said. "We have no doubt that the case against him will be closed. Mr. Golan has never harassed Filber or any other state witness." 

Netanyahu, in turn, released a statement calling the affair "persecution" and "a scandal" with "the clear aim of neutralizing the prime minister's ability to fight for public opinion as a flood of leaked investigation materials harms his close associates."

Last month, Urich was invited to provide a clarification at the Central Elections Committee; he had said Netanyahu’s press conference on annexing the Jordan Valley would not include electioneering and therefore should be aired on television.

Urich apologized to the committee and said Netanyahu’s declaration touched mainly on diplomatic and security affairs, while the political part had not been planned. The committee's chairman, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, fined Likud 30,000 shekels ($8,500) for forbidden electioneering.

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