French-Israeli hacker faces trial for phone hoax that ended in death

Gregory Chelli placed call that led police to carry out early morning raid on home of man who suffered fatal heart attack days later

French-Israeli hacker Gregory Chelli speaks to the then Channel 2 in 2017. (screen capture: Channel 2)
French-Israeli hacker Gregory Chelli speaks to the then Channel 2 in 2017. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The Paris prosecutor’s office is seeking an indictment against a French-Israeli hacker and prank phone call maker it holds responsible for the death in 2014 of a victim of one of his extreme telephone hoaxes, his attorneys said Tuesday.

Gregory Chelli, 36, who has been living in Israel since 2010 and is the subject of an extradition request, was named in court papers filed January 31 for, inter alia, “deliberate acts of violence that resulted in unintended death.”

In the summer of 2014 Chelli allegedly targeted the online media Rue89 website after it reported on his hacking of pro-Palestinian websites.

On August 1, Chelli, already known for previous hoaxes publicized on his “ViolVocal” chat room website, targeted the father of Benoît Le Corre, the author of the article.

After hacking a telephone line, Chelli called French police while pretending to be Thierry, the journalist’s father, and confessed to having just killed his wife and son.

Twenty policemen surrounded Le Corre’s home at 4:30 in the morning. Four days later Thierry Le Corre suffered a heart attack and then died a month and a half later.

Prosecutors wrote that medical experts established a “causal link” between the prank call and Thierry Le Corre’s death. They are also seeking that Chelli be tried for his other hoaxes, which had targeted a police officer and several journalists.

An investigating judge will now decide whether or not to allow the case to go trial.

“I’ve targeted the French police more than 500 times,” Chelli told Channel 12 television in an interview that aired in 2017. “I’ve also targeted the Belgian and Swiss police.”

In the television interview, which came ahead of the premiere of an Israeli documentary about him called “The Patriot,” Chelli said that he began his online “activism” in response to the sharp rise in anti-Semitism in France in recent years.

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