Israeli Hacker's Prank Calls Led to Journalist's Father's Death, French Journalists Accuse

French journalists say that prank calls made by Israeli Gregory Chelli were instrumental in the death of a journalist's father.

Dreamstime

An Israeli cyber activist is facing accusations that his activities led to the death of the father of a French journalist.

Gregory Chelli, 31, a French-born resident of Ashkelon, has been accused of targeting the father of French journalist Benoit Le Corre with fake phone calls, indirectly leading to his death.

Le Corre, a journalist on the news website Rue 89, recently wrote a critical article about Chelli, alleging that he had hacked into pro-Palestinian websites during the Israeli offensive in Gaza this summer.

According to Pierre Haski, cofounder of Rue 89, Chelli - also known as Ulcan - initiated a campaign of harassment in response to the article.

In late July, according to Le Parisien newspaper, he impersonated a policeman in a phone call Le Corre's parents and informed them that their son had died in a car accident.

The second call attributed to Chelli came two days later in the middle of the night to a police station in the Paris suburb of Dammarie-les-Lys, where the journalist’s parents live.

He allegedly identified himself to police as Benoit Le Corre’s father and confessed to having just killed his wife and son. A dispatch of several armed police officers showed up at the couple’s doorstep at 4 A.M. in search of the nonexistent bodies.

Le Corre's father had a stroke five days later and died on Tuesday this week.
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Interviewed last month by the France 2 television channel, Chelli said he had no regrets over any of his actions, though he did not admit to any action in particular.

Pierre Haski of Rue 89 noted that the deceased’s family had a history of strokes and that the man’s “professional hyperactivity” placed him at an even higher risk group, according to doctors.

“But it is difficult not to tie it to the stress he endured in the days before the stroke,” Haski added.

Haski also said that several police complaints have been lodged against Chelli for aggravated harassment and giving police a false report, among other charges. But he is not being interrogated because he is not currently in France, and because “of a lack of action, it seems, by Israeli authorities.”