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Former AG Mandeblit denies any knowledge of police spying scandal

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a conference in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a conference in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit tells the Kan public broadcaster that he has no connection to the ongoing police spying scandal and does not know if any of it is true.

In a phone call with a Kan reporter, Mandeblit says: “I don’t think anyone serious thinks it is connected to me.”

Mandelblit, who ended his six-year tenure last week, says that the allegations that police used the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of government officials, activists and other figures are “disturbing.”

“Of course, I’m disturbed by it. I hope it’s not true,” he says. “If the allegations are true, they’ll be investigated and held responsible.”

Mandeblit rejected any claims that he or his office approved investigations of any of those mentioned, including the directors-general of several ministries.

“Nobody approved investigating any director-general [of a government ministry],” he says, referencing former Justice Ministry director Emi Palmor and former Finance Ministry directors Shai Babad and Keren Terner.

But, he notes, his office approved investigations, and not hacking of phones.

“If [the allegation] is correct, and I don’t know if it is, that’s not an investigation, that’s something else entirely,” he says. “I don’t know of any investigations against them, were there any investigations?”

In an initial police probe presented to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last night, police claimed that — of the 26 names purportedly hacked — just three were targeted, with judicial approval, and only one was successfully hacked.

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