Israeli indicted for hacking Madonna song library

State Attorney’s office accuses Tel Aviv resident Adi Lederman of stealing unpublished music to trade on Internet

Madonna performs in Tel Aviv during her Sticky and Sweet Tour in September 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)
Madonna performs in Tel Aviv during her Sticky and Sweet Tour in September 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)

A resident of Tel Aviv suspected of hacking into the computer of pop diva Madonna and stealing unpublished songs in order to sell them on the Internet was indicted Wednesday at the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court.

The State Attorney’s office further requested that the 39-year-old man remain in custody until the conclusion of legal procedures.

Adi Lederman was accused by the State Attorney’s office of illegally hacking into the singer’s email account and selling files for sums ranging up to tens of thousands of dollars, according to the Calcalist financial magazine.

Most of the alleged crimes were said to have taken place in 2014, though Lederman is suspected of breaking into Madonna’s personal account even after his initial arrest in January 2015.

Lederman was arrested following an undercover investigation by the cyber-crime unit of the Lahav 433 special investigations department of the police.

Cops began the probe when Madonna’s legal representative lodged a complaint after new, unpublished material from the singer was leaked to the Internet a few months ago.

Adi Lederman, suspected of hacking Madonna's song library (screen capture: Channel 2)
Adi Lederman, suspected of hacking Madonna’s song library (screen capture: Channel 2)

The investigation was carried out in close coordination with the FBI and revealed that the suspect, 38, may have hacked into other celebrities’ computers.

According to police, the suspect took the songs and then tried to trade them online.

Police later confiscated computers and media material from the suspect’s home in Tel Aviv.

The hacking and subsequent leak apparently prompted a surprise preview of Madonna’s new album in December 2014 when the artist released six songs on iTunes and various streaming services.

The songs were released because several in-progress demos were leaked earlier that week, publicist Liz Rosenberg said at the time.

Madonna, who has performed in Israel, said in a statement that she had wanted to wait until a different holiday season.

“I was hoping to release my new single ‘Living For Love’ on Valentine’s Day with the rest of the album coming in the spring,” she said. “I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift.”

Asked about her recording security, she said it already had been quite tight, so the leak came as a surprise.

“We don’t put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information,” she said.

“Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don’t leave music laying around.”

In a Facebook post following Lederman’s arrest, the singer said she was “profoundly grateful” to the investigators for their efforts, and defended her right to privacy.

“Like any citizen, I have the right to privacy. This invasion into my life — creatively, professionally, and personally remains a deeply devastating and hurtful experience, as it must be for all artists who are victims of this type of crime.”

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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