State said seeking 12-year jail term for blogger for harassing judges

Prosecution reportedly trying to turn extensive indictment against Lori Shem-Tov into a test case on shaming, following online campaign against welfare and other officials

Blogger Lori Shem-Tov on May 21, 2019. (Screenshot: YouTube)
Blogger Lori Shem-Tov on May 21, 2019. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Prosecutors are demanding a 12-year prison sentence for a blogger accused of insulting, harassing and blackmailing judges and other public officials in online posts, seeking to make it a test case that would set a severe punishment in shaming cases, the Haaretz daily reported Monday.

Lori Shem-Tov began her campaign after losing custody over her children, publishing many stories criticizing the judge who made the decision as well as welfare officials. She then broadened her activity after other parents sent her similar stories.

She was arrested in February 2017, indicted two months later and has remained in custody until last month, when the Supreme Court released her under restrictions.

She and her associates Moti Leybel and lawyer Zvi Zer — who were also released after a nine-month detention — are facing 120 charges of conspiracy to commit various online crimes against against judges and officials in the welfare and legal systems, including invading their privacy, sexual harassment, insulting public servants, violating gag orders and more.

Posted by ‎לורי שם טוב, מוטי לייבל ועו"ד צבי זר‎ on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Prosecutors in the case have told Shem-Tov’s attorney in an initial meeting to discuss a plea deal that they are insisting on a sentence “in the double figures” and will not compromise on that, Haaretz reported.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s office denied the report, saying those figures were not proposed but refusing to comment further.

Haaretz said that a similar case against corruption whistle-blower Rafi Rotem, who was indicted on 20 harassment charges and 15 charges of insulting public servants, only yielded a suspended sentence. Also in other similar cases, there has been no talk of the defendants being sentenced to so many years behind bars.

Prosecutors are referring to the case as “the online terrorism affair,” while Shem-Tov’s supporters call it “the vengeful judges case.” According to the indictment, Shem-Tov called a female judge a “feminazi judge” and a “crazy slut.” Another judge complained she wrote that she had “received the ISIS award for effective elimination of parents” and “recommended opening gas chambers for parents in her [court] hall.”

Some 25 judges are among the almost 100 plaintiffs, whose names are all gagged by a court order.

The case faced delays after Shem-Tov quarreled with the Public Defense about how she would be represented in court. Last week judges said the Public Defense didn’t have to represent her, and she is subsequently representing herself.

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