Sex for Judgeship: Top Israeli Laywer Sues Journalists for Uncovering Allegations

The journalists acquired an old cell phone of Effi Nave's and paid to have it hacked

Former Israel Bar Association President Effi Nave during a court hearing in Tel Aviv, January 2019.
Reuven Castro

Former Israel Bar Association President Effi Nave filed a 7 million shekel ($1.94 million) civil suit against the journalists responsible for uncovering the allegations that led to Nave stepping down amid criminal suspicions that he helped promote judges in exchange for sex. Nave’s suit was filed Monday in Lod District Court, and names as defendants journalist Hadas Shtaif and four senior editors at Army Radio.

The journalists acquired an old cell phone of Nave’s and paid to have it hacked. The phone contained allegedly incriminating messages. Shtaif ultimately handed the phone over to police in exchange for immunity from criminal charges. This does not grant her protection against a civil suit, however.

Army Radio’s legal adviser had recommended against using material found on the phone in a news item, since the phone had been broken into, thus allegedly rendering access to its contents illegal.

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The suit states, “Shtaif invaded deeply into Nave’s personal life,” the suit states. “This is no less serious than breaking into a home.”

The suit addresses the broadcast, during which the journalists addressed the uproar at the studio when Shtaif presented what she found on the phone. During the broadcast, Shtaif said she realized how serious the material was, and therefore gave it to police.

During the broadcast, the journalists also discussed “insulting” chats with a senior female member of the government regarding senior female judges. Shtaif also mentioned “close ties with journalists that overstep the journalist-source relationship.”

The suit also demands that the journalists return Nave his phone.

Army Radio stated in response that it would review the suit.

Nave was a dominant figure on Israel’s legal scene starting in 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.

The bar association president wields substantial political power due to his or her permanent seat on the nine-member panel that appoints the country’s judges and other top legal officials.