Police recommend indictments in ultra-Orthodox internet blackmail scandal

Police recommend indictments in ultra-Orthodox internet blackmail scandal

Website allegedly extorted hundreds of thousands of shekels from rabbis, politicians and other public figures by threatening to publish defamatory information about them

The Jerusalem Police on Thursday urged prosecutors to indict five suspects in an internet extortion scandal involving an ultra-Orthodox website. The police recommended that the five be prosecuted for racketeering and extorting 20 victims.

The directors of the Behadrei Haredim were arrested in April on suspicion that they had blackmailed public figures, including politicians and rabbis, for hundreds of thousands of shekels over a period of several years. According to suspicions, they would either post false reports and demand money for their removal or extort cash to keep stories from being published.

The investigation found evidence against the site’s director, vice president, both content managers, and another staffer who mediated between victims. It also revealed that the suspects had demanded monthly or yearly payments from the suspects in order to remove the potentially damaging or defamatory information about them from the site.

In April, Nissan Shaham, the Jerusalem District police chief, said the case was “the worst blackmail case” he had ever witnessed. At the time, the CEO of the website said police were harassing him over the publication of a picture of a policemen in an SS uniform.

Ilan Ben Zion and Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.

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