Blogger arrested after confronting state’s witness in submarines affair
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Blogger arrested after confronting state’s witness in submarines affair

Freelance journalist accused of posing as intelligence officer, showing up late at night at former senior official’s home; his computers, cellphones are seized

An Israeli submarine sails during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, April 19, 2018. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli submarine sails during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, April 19, 2018. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

A freelance journalist was arrested and interrogated by police on Monday on suspicion of harassing a state’s witness in the so-called submarines affair.

Former Finance Ministry accountant general Michal Abadi-Boiangiu complained to police about the blogger, claiming he confronted her at her home late at night and posed as an intelligence officer to earn her trust, according to a statement from Israel Police.

Police said investigators from the Lahav 433 unit have seized “digital materials,” and also detained the blogger’s partner for questioning.

According to the suspect’s attorney, two computers, two cellphones, and various hard drives and other mobile devices were confiscated.

Police said the man is suspected of harassing a witness and privacy violations.

The Kan public broadcaster identified the suspect as the man who runs the “Eishton” blog. He blogs anonymously.

“This arrest is ludicrous and seriously harms the freedom of the press and may lead to the exposure of sources, all under the guise of the absurd accusation of witness harassment,” said the suspect’s attorney, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, according to Kan.

The lawyer said he would seek to prevent the police from accessing the materials on the devices seized from the suspect’s home.

Dubbed Case 3000, the submarine scandal centers on the multi-billion-shekel procurement of military boats and submarines from German shipbuilder ‎Thyssenkrupp, in 2016.

Prosecutors allege that Israeli officials were bribed to advocate for a massive deal for the vessels, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A police investigation that wrapped up in February ensnared several close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although the premier himself was not a suspect.

The scandal also involves the sale of two Dolphin-class submarines and two anti-submarine warships by Germany to Egypt allegedly approved by Netanyahu without consulting or notifying the Defense Ministry. While Germany does not require Israeli permission to sell the advanced submarines to other countries, it has shown Jerusalem that courtesy in order to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in the region.

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