The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed a research agreement with Israeli company Water-Gen, which produces "atmospheric water generators" capable of creating drinkable water out of air. Last year, EPA chief Scott Pruitt met with representatives of the company at the request of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.
The report stated that executives for the company "were twice granted access to EPA chief Scott Pruitt at the request of Republican Party donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson." Adelson, a billionaire, was one of the largest donors to U.S. President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and is also the owner of Israel Hayom, a freely-handed Israeli newspaper that serves as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to another report that appeared on Wednesday in Politico, "Pruitt met on March 29, 2017, with executives from Water-Gen 'as a request of Sheldon Adelson,' according to copies of his calendar that were released after activists filed a lawsuit. Adelson’s relationship with the company is unclear."
Water-Gen's technology was mentioned in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech before the annual AIPAC conference this year. Netanyahu said that "a young Israeli company brought in this technology that improves on Moses. You remember Moses? He brought water from a rock? They bring water from thin air. They bring water to Africa, to millions of people in Africa." He did not mention Water-Gen by name.
Water-gen is owned by Mikhael Mirilashvili, an Israeli billionaire born in the former Soviet Union, who also serves as the company's president. His family also owns Channel 20, a right-wing Israeli television channel that is aiming to become Israel's version of Fox News, and offers strong support to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Mirilashvili's channel has featured attacks on the Israeli police because of Netanyahu's corruption investigations, but the businessman himself is embroiled in a separate corruption investigation involving Minister of Interior Arye Dery.
Mirilasvhili sat in prison in Russia for eight years, over allegedly being involved in the kidnapping of his own father. He was released from prison in 2009, and his sentencing was harshly criticized by the European Court for Human Rights, which said the charges against him were false.