Court extends Communication Ministry chief’s ban from office
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Court extends Communication Ministry chief’s ban from office

Shlomo Filber, suspected of swaying government decisions in favor of Bezeq, told to stay away from office for another month

Shlomo Filber, director of the Communication Ministry, speaks at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 24, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shlomo Filber, director of the Communication Ministry, speaks at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 24, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A court on Monday extended the ban on the director general of the Communications Ministry from his office for a further month, amid an investigation into suspected criminal wrongdoing.

Shlomo Filber is suspected to have worked illicitly to advance the interests of Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications firm.

The court ordered him to continue to refrain from contacting officials at Bezeq and its related companies and officials at the Justice Ministry.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended the restrictions it placed on Filber two months ago, it said in a statement. Filber is banned from any contact, direct or indirect, with his employees at the ministry until a decision is made about his temporary suspension from the post.

Filber had opposed the extension to the ban, while the Israel Securities Authority requested the ban be extended by five weeks.

“According to the material presented to me, the director general of the Communications Ministry was involved in many activities that raise the suspicion of criminal activity,” Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz wrote in her judgment. “Additional material was added today that reinforces the reasonable suspicion.”

The legal adviser of the ISA told the court that Filber had “deleted various communications from his cellphone.”

Also on Monday, the court agreed to a request from the ISA to extend the restrictions placed on Bezeq secretary Linor Yochelman until November 1.

Although Yochelman recently returned to work at Bezeq she is barred from leaving the country or contacting any of the other involved in the investigation. However, the authority has allowed her to contact several people who she was previously forbidden to contact.

On July 26 the court instructed Filber to continue to be available, as needed, for interrogations and not to contact investigators directly or indirectly. He was also barred from accessing computer files that are connected to the investigation. The court also kept in place the requirement that Filber not leave the country for 180 days starting July 12 and maintained the NIS 400,000 ($112,000) bond requirement.

An ally and appointee of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Filber was interrogated by the Israel Security Authorities earlier this month on suspicions of ethics violations and securities fraud regarding his involvement with Bezeq, headed by Shaul Elovitch, said to be a friend of the Israeli premier.

Filber, Netanyahu and Elovitch have denied any wrongdoing.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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