WASHINGTON — The New Yorker published on Sunday night new details about alleged attempts by Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube to spy on former Obama administration officials who were involved in crafting the Iran nuclear deal. The New Yorker's story came just hours after the company strongly denied any connection to the story, telling Haaretz that the company "had nothing to do with this."
The new report stated that the wife of Ben Rhodes, Obama's former senior media adviser and a member of the National Security Council, received suspicious emails in June 2017 from a London-based film company, Shell Productions, which turned out to be a fake company allegedly created by Black Cube operatives. It also stated that Black Cube used a similar tactic by contacting the wife of Colin Kahl, another former Obama national security official, through a fake financial firm, Reuben Capital Partners, also supposedly based in London.
The affair involving an attempt to spy on the former Obama officials was first reported on Sunday in The Observer, a British weekly. However, the original report didn't specifically name Black Cube, and instead only referred to an "Israeli intelligence firm." The New Yorker clearly stated that "the operation was carried out by Black Cube." The reporter who published the story on Sunday night, Ronan Farrow, previously published an investigative report on Black Cube's work on behalf of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who hired the company to spy after victims of his sexual misconduct.
The report published on Sunday described the attempts to contact Rhodes' and Kahl's family members as "strikingly similar" to the campaign Black Cube did for Weinstein. It also stated that "Black Cube compiled detailed background profiles of several individuals, including Rhodes and Kahl, which featured their addresses, information on their family members, and even the makes of their cars." In addition, the report stated that "Black Cube agents were instructed to try to find damaging information about them."
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Black Cube, according to the report, also "compiled a list of more than thirty reporters who it believed were in touch with Obama administration officials, annotated with instructions about how to seek negative information." Another part of the operation was an attempt to get "dirt" on Obama officials from Trita Parsi, the head of the National Iranian American Council, an organization that supported the Iran nuclear deal. Parsi said on Sunday that he is "angered and disturbed to find out this weekend that I was targeted by Black Cube."
Black Cube issued a denial Sunday night, saying:
"It is Black Cube's policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company's work.
Referencing Black Cube has become an international sport during 2018. Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran nuclear deal. Anyone who claims otherwise is misleading their readers and viewers.
Luckily, the Mossad and the CIA are capable to deal with the Iran nuclear deal and other issues of national security without relying on the expertise of Black Cube.
It is important to note that Black Cube always operates in full compliance of the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world's leading law firms."