Prosecution in Netanyahu’s Trial Asks for More Time
On Sunday, the state prosecution informed the Jerusalem District Court, which is presiding over the trial of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli Prime Minister, that there had been no illegal hacking of cell phones without court orders. However, the prosecution requested at the same time that judges grant them an extension till Wednesday for providing a full report regarding the instances in which the police did use, or at least try to legally use some version of the Pegasus software. The same extension was also requested by state prosecutors for responding to the demands of defense lawyers of a larger report, which includes all classified and original materials related to the issues.
For a week, it has been known that technology was used by the police for hacking the cellphone of the aid of the former premier, Shlomo Filber, who has now turned state’s witness. The prosecution had claimed last week that this had only been done after a court order had been granted for giving police access to Filber’s phone, which had been handed over to law enforcement. Now, the debate is about how much of the hacking went beyond the court order and if it had any impact on the trial.
The prosecution claimed that there had not been any impact on the trial and also said on Sunday that they had access to the analysis of NSO Group about the issue. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had given instructions last week to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad to assist Amit Marari, the Attorney-General, in double-checking the answers the police had provided. Regardless of the above, it is likely that the defense will not just accept the state’s word. Furthermore, there is also a chance that there had been a discussion of attempting to hack the cellphone of defendant Iris Elovitch, along with another person associated with the trial.
Iris is the wife of Shaul Elovitch, the owner of Bezeq and Walla, and had allegedly had a direct involvement in facilitating the scheme of media bribery. The prosecution has also asked for a delay because they want to censor and declassify certain items that are being produced for the public and the defense and they would have to undertake a process with the Public Security Ministry for this purpose. The prosecution also added that about 1,500 cellphones had been covered in the review and they belonged to people connected with Case 4000, which is the Bezeq-Walla affair, Case 1,000, which is the illegal gifts affair, Case 1,270, which is the Bribery affair of the Attorney-General and Case 2,000, which is the Yisrael Hayom-Yediot Aharonot affair.
A joint statement was released by Likud and the other right-wing parties that are part of the opposition in which they rejected the findings of the task force appointed by Bennett. The parties said that a state commission should be formed for investigating the police spying of Israeli citizens. The parties said that the country’s citizens were still waiting to find out who had been spied on, how much and who had ordered it.