Police chief says top brass cleared of leaking to the press

Police chief says top brass cleared of leaking to the press

Over 100 high-ranking law enforcement officials have taken lie detector tests on the matter this year, officials tells Knesset committee

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (L) and Likud MK Yoav Kisch at the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (L) and Likud MK Yoav Kisch at the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

More than a hundred high-ranking police officers have undergone lie detector tests and have been found not to have leaked information on sensitive investigations, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said Tuesday.

“Policemen have been checked on the leak issue and I am happy to say that wasn’t what was flagged in the tests,” Alsheich told the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee.

“I see the results and am proud of them,” he added. “Unit heads have been tested, and I am happy to say it is a non-issue.”

Legislation passed in November 2017 requires officers to undergo lie detector tests, but the exact topics on which they are to be questioned haven’t thus far been clearly defined.

The head of the police’s information security unit, Eti Meirson, said during the meeting that 102 polygraph tests have been conducted since the beginning of 2018. In total, some 400 senior officers with the rank of commander and higher are slated to take lie detector tests.

Last month, Netanyahu’s wife and son filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry, calling for the investigation of alleged leaks from their police interrogation which took place as part of the Bezeq corruption probe.

Yossi Cohen, who represents Sara and Yair Netanyahu, sent a letter to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department demanding a probe to determine “who leaked the false information that found its way to the media.” Despite claiming the leaked details were “false,” he charged that reports about the investigation contained information known only to his clients and the police.

The lawyer added that information about an earlier questioning had been given to the media before it even happened, pointing the finger at the police investigators and singling out the police commissioner.

A March report in Haaretz alleged that Sara Netanyahu herself may have leaked details from her questioning to the press.

During Tuesday’s meeting, committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) and members Miki Levy (Yesh Atid) and Benny Begin (Likud) unanimously approved the police proposal for regulations that would define the topics of questioning for police officers: involvement in criminal offenses, use of psychoactive substances, contact with criminals and “other acts that violate the integrity expected from a police officer.”

Those acts were said to include leaking classified information to unauthorized people, as well as abuse of power or having intimate relationships in violation of police rules.

The prime minister and his wife were last questioned in March in the Bezeq probe, which involves suspicions that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions benefiting the controlling shareholder of Israel’s largest telecommunications firm Bezeq, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for flattering coverage of himself and his family from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.

Police investigators arrive at the entrance to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on March 26, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Many leaks of details from that probe have been published over the last year in the media, along with information from several other corruption cases involving the prime minister and his associates.

Netanyahu is also suspected of wrongdoing in so-called cases 1000 and 2000, in which police have recommended he be indicted for bribery, breach of trust and fraud. A report this week suggested the prosecution could eventually drop the bribery charge in Case 1000.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, allegedly in return for certain benefits.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in another investigation, Case 3000, but there have been reports that police are considering questioning him under caution about the case.

Case 3000 involves suspected corruption in the multi-billion-shekel purchase of submarines and other naval vessels from a German shipbuilder. The investigation has focused on suspicions that state officials were bribed to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines costing a total of 2 billion euros from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition to the deal from the Defense Ministry.

Netanyahu and his family have denied any wrongdoing in all of the cases.

Raoul Wootliff and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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