Sex for Judgeship: Evidence Against Israel’s Top Lawyer Obtained Through Hacked Phone

Army Radio reporter finds former Bar Association president's old cellphone, hacks it and hands it to police in exchange for immunity ■ New suspicions allege Nave helped an intern he was intimately involved with pass the bar exam

Efraim Nave outside police offices, January 17, 2019.
Meged Gozani

The evidence against former Israel Bar Association President Efraim Nave, who resigned Thursday after he was arrested on suspicion of promoting judges in exchange for sexual favors, came from correspondence an Army Radio reporter found on a cellphone, which she then handed to police.

New suspicions were also revealed on Friday, after police questioned a legal intern who was romantically involved with Nave. According to police, Nave allegedly helped the intern attain a job in the legal world during the course of their relationship in 2017.

The intern is not a suspect and was questioned as a witness. However, her phone was confiscated, a decision which her attorney said he would petition against before a district court.

Army Radio crime reporter Hadas Shteif got Nave’s old phone through one of her sources. The phone had been kept in a safe in Nave’s previous residence, which he left after splitting from his second wife. 

Shteif used the services of a hacker in order to get through the phone’s security settings, and as the phone’s content had not been erased, she found hundreds of supposedly incriminating text messages between Nave and the two women at the heart of the investigation.

The State Prosecutor’s Office granted Shteif immunity for hacking the phone, which could constitute a criminal act and a violation of Nave's privacy, in exchange for the cellhpone.

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In response to criticism sounded by Nave’s lawyer regarding the legitimacy of the evidence and the manner in which it was obtained, police said on Friday that searching through the cellphone was sanctioned by the court.

Police also stated that all the actions taken in the investigation “were conducted according to the law, while balancing the various interests concerning the matter.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel seconded the lawyer’s claims against the police and called upon it to close the case against Nave.

In an unusual statement, the Israel Police said: “The investigation is being conducted with the approval of the authorized entities, accompanied by the Central District of the State Prosecutor’s Office and under the supervision of the state prosecutor.”

Police also said the investigation is limited only to suspicions of criminal acts concerning judicial appointments. 

On Friday, the State Prosecutor's Office warned Army Radio not to use the private material found on the phone or it could lead to criminal proceedings. 

Nave was questioned for ten hours on Thursday after being released to a house arrest for eight days. Police suspect Nave had sexual relations with the judge in exchange for her promotion as well as with the wife of another judge in exchange for his advancement.

Nave has been a dominant and influential figure on Israel’s legal scene since 2015, when he ousted the president of the Bar Association and took leadership of the professional organization that represents the country’s 59,000 attorneys.