Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Police question Netanyahu, wife in corruption case

CASE 4000:The Israeli prime minister was probed over alleged collusion with telecom Bezeq for millions of US dollars in exchange for positive news coverage

AP, JERUSALEM

Israeli police on Friday questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife as part of an investigation into a corruption case involving national telecom giant Bezeq Ltd, casting a shadow on Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington.

Police investigators in the morning entered Netanyahu’s residence. An Associated Press cameraman saw them leave about five hours later.

Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was questioned at another location at the same time as the prime minister.

Police later issued a statement saying that the couple “were questioned for a number of hours as part of an investigation” by police and the Israel Securities Authority.

Last month, two Netanyahu confidants were arrested on suspicion of promoting regulation worth hundreds of millions of US dollars to the Bezeq telecom company. In return, Bezeq’s news Web site, Walla, allegedly provided positive coverage about Netanyahu.

It was the first time that Netanyahu, who as prime minister also held the communications portfolio until last year, was questioned in the affair, known as Case 4000.

The development comes ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, where he is to meet with US President Donald Trump and speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee next week.

Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.

He is accused of accepting nearly US$300,000 in lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

In return, police have said he operated on Milchan’s behalf on US visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

In the other case, Netanyahu is accused of offering a newspaper publisher legislation that would weaken his paper’s main rival in return for more favorable coverage.

Netanyahu reportedly was recorded asking Arnon Mozes, publisher of Yediot Ahronot, for positive coverage in exchange for helping to weaken Israel Hayom, a free pro-Netanyahu newspaper that had cut into Yediot’s business.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media.

He on Friday evening on Facebook reiterated his belief that “nothing” will come out of the investigations.

“I am sure that there will be nothing and I want to tell millions of Israelis that the extraordinary show of support me, my wife and my family have received is heartwarming,” he said in a video posted after the questioning.

He added he was looking forward to meeting Trump, who he called a “true friend of Israel.”

Additional reporting by AFP

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