Gantz's Employee Intended to Spy for Iran for $7,000, Report Says

Omri Goren, who worked as a cleaner in the defense minister's home, reportedly asked the Black Shadow hacker group for the measly sum in exchange for passing them information

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a conference in Jaffa, last week.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a conference in Jaffa, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush

A cleaner at Defense Minister Benny Gantz's home who is suspected of offering to spy on his boss to an Iran-linked hacker group asked for just $7,000 in exchange for the information and planting malware on the minister's computer, Israel's Channel 12 News reported Friday.

Omri Goren, a 37-year-old convicted felon from Lod, has been charged with espionage. According to the indictment, he contacted the Black Shadow hacker collective following a series of articles attributing cyberattacks against Israel to the group. Goren said he could help them in various ways in exchange for the meager sum.

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Goren's attorney Gal Wolf told Channel 12 News that his client reached out to the group for purely economic gain, and had no intention of harming state security. "He never dreamed that things would get to the point where they did," Wolf said.

Omri Goren.

"He describes that he did it against the backdrop of financial hardship," the lawyer said. "He had no access to classified material or documents, and therefore never imagined that he would end up in this situation."

He added that Goren did not consider who the person communicating with him on Telegram truly was. "We are not convinced that the person on the other side was a hostile element," he said, noting that if the case involved classified information or the potential to harm state security, there would have been a gag order on it.

Goren has been sentenced to jail time on four occasions, including for armed robbery and home invasions. He did not undergo a security screening before beginning to work for Gantz.

The Shin Bet security service, which is responsible for security screenings and clearances, identified a string of failures when investigating Goren's case, according to Channel 12 News. The organization's personal security unit, which is responsible for Gantz's security, is supposed to be aware of the personnel in the minister's home. Final approval for staff is given by the security screening unit, which collects intelligence on and investigates individuals.

Goren's file, the report said, must have fallen between the cracks when coordinating between the two offices, to the point where he did not receive a security clearance before working in the defense minister's home. According to the report, the people responsible for the error may face personal consequences.

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