Netanyahu Attorney's Partner Sought to Discredit Judges in Prime Minister's Trial, Report Says

TV report says woman pretending to be interested in paying to disrupt Netanyahu's trial recorded lawyer discussing how the trial could be delayed

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Netanyahu and attorney Amit Hadad at the Jerusalem District Court, May 2020
Netanyahu and attorney Amit Hadad at the Jerusalem District Court, May 2020Credit: Amit Shabi

A senior law firm partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense lawyer Amit Hadad sought to record a close relative of one of the judges in Netanyahu's corruption trial to embarrass them, the "Uvda” investigative television program reported on Thursday.

Ariel Roth, the partner in the law firm Hadad, Roth and Co., planned to send someone to extract comments about Netanyahu from one of the judge’s close relatives, according to the report, which Roth and Hadad both dismissed as inaccurate and misleading.

Bibi gets immunity – just not the kind he really wants. LISTEN to Haaretz Weekly podcastCredit: Haaretz

"Uvda" filmed Roth with a hidden camera two weeks ago at a meeting in Tel Aviv. Roth thought he was meeting with a businesswoman who was interested in funding a plan to disrupt the proceedings in Netanyahu’s trial, said the report. The woman was cooperating with “Uvda” and recorded the meeting with Roth, however.

At one point during the meeting, Roth asked to remove the telephones from the room and moved to the balcony, out of a fear of being recorded, according to "Uvda." On the video, Roth can be heard saying that his aim was to record someone close to the judge to say the cases against Netanyahu were entirely fabricated.

In another part of the recording, he is heard saying: “You’re asking me if something like this is worth money? The answer is yes. Will it lead to the cancellation of the trial? In my legal opinion, not the public one, it could delay [it], it could make a lot of noise.”

A spokesman for Netanyahu accused "Uvda" of conducting “a low and transparent political sting operation that was intended to slant the results of the election against the prime minister, to blacken his image in front of the court and to obstruct the legal proceedings. ‘Uvda’ is the one that cooked up the meeting with attorney Roth, whom the prime minister does not even know, who does not represent him and who has no connection to his cases. ‘Uvda’ is the one that placed hidden cameras in the location of the meeting, took the ‘initiative’ to cast aspersions on the judges and tried after an hour of fruitless talk to maneuver attorney Roth as if he was the one who raised this improper idea … The prime minister has not sent anyone to investigate any of his judges and has not asked anyone to do so.”

Roth told “Uvda” that he had “no connection or knowledge whatsoever – not even a hint – about such a plan.” Roth said that he didn’t even know who the judges were for Netanyahu’s trial.

Later, a statement issued on his behalf said that Roth intends on filing a defamation lawsuit at the beginning of next week against “Uvda” and "others who... collaborated with a severe distortion of my intentions."

Hadad called it a "malicious sting operation," saying he hadn't been aware of Roth's remarks quoted in the report, stressing his partner "has absolutely no connection to the prime minister's cases, which I handle personally and exclusively." He also said he "condemned any attempt at external influence over the courts."

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