Police Arrest 22 in Phone Tapping Case

Court papers reveal 22 'private investigators' were arrested by Israel Police for installing eavesdropping software on mobile phones.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Mobile Phone
Mobile Phone

Israel's Hebrew-language Maariv reported Monday that Israel Police arrested 22 'private investigators' for installing spyware on mobile phones allowing access to private conversations and text messages.

Documents filed in a Rishon Letzion court revealed the Israel Police Lahav 433 unit and Computer Crimes unit conducted a covert protracted investigation into 11 detective agencies allegedly using software previously reserved for the security services.

Such eavesdropping softwares have become increasingly popular with private detectives and citizens who suspect their partners of infidelity.

The software allows mobile phones to be remotely accessed without leaving a trace or revealing to the owner they are being surveilled. All calls, text messages, and e-mail messages are transmitted to and from the infected phone can be received and recorded in real time.

A spokesman for the Israel Police said investigators believe hundreds of people across the country are using similar software to spy on competing businesses, family, or romantic partners.

The suspects will be charged with illegally installing a listening device for the purpose of eavesdropping and invasion of privacy. Israeli law restricts the use of eavesdropping technology to police and security services within set guidelines and routine oversight.

One of the private investigators, being charged in the case asserted he believed the Prime Minister's Office had obtained and installed such software in order to listen in on private citizen's conversations.

Police refused to comment on the allegation, but the PMO categorically denied the report.