Israel Police Admit Hacking Into Phone of Key Witness in Netanyahu Trial, Source Says

Police say they used spyware to break into the phone of a key witness, after Netanyahu asked the court to divulge all intel gained through the hack

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
Shlomo Filber attends a hearing at a Tel Aviv court, in 2018.
Shlomo Filber attends a hearing at a Tel Aviv court, in 2018.Credit: Moti Milrod
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Israel Police told the State Prosecutor's Office that it used spyware to hack into the phone of Shlomo Filber, a key witness in former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial, and extract information, an official from the office said Thursday.

Netanyahu is accused of instructing Filber, who was the Communications Ministry director general at the time of the alleged events, to promote Bezeq’s regulatory interests in return for favorable coverage from Walla news website, which Bezeq owned at the time. Filber turned state’s evidence in 2018.

The lawyers of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the court on Thursday to order the government to divulge any information police obtained in their investigation of Netanyahu using spyware, after a report said the Israel Police used spyware to gather data from the phone of someone linked to Netanyahu’s trial.

The hack, reported on Channel 13 News, was discovered by the Justice Ministry during its review of the police's use of spyware.

Police are said to have claimed that its investigators were never actually given the data from the phone, which would have been gathered in violation of police procedures, and that any use of the spyware was pursuant to a search warrant. But police later acknowledged that members of the force had misused spyware.

The Jerusalem District Court has also ordered the prosecution in Netanyahu's trial to respond to a question by his attorneys regarding the use of spyware during its investigations of the former prime minister by Tuesday. The defense attorneys requested that the next hearing on Monday deal with the issue, but the judges decided on Friday that the hearings will continue as normal until the prosecution files its response.

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