Israeli blogger facing 12-year prison term for harrassment

Prosecutors are seeking to imprison a blogger who began an online campaign against gov't officials after losing custody of her children.

Sara Rubenstein,

Judges in Israel
Judges in Israel
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State prosecutors are demanding a 12-year prison sentence for an Israeli blogger for the alleged slander, harassment and blackmail of government officials, including judges, according to a report by Haaretz on Monday. There are almost 100 plaintiffs against the blogger, including 25 judges, but their identities have been blocked by court order.

Blogger Lori Shem-Tov, a journalist by profession, has been making headlines for years since losing custody of her children to welfare authorities roughly 20 years ago. She subsequently began an online campaign against the judge who authorized the decision to remove her children as well as against other government officials. As she became active and spread her story, other parents shared their stories with her and her campaign became more extensive against those she deemed responsible for custody decisions.

In 2014, Shem-Tov was arrested for publishing financial information about Welfare Ministry director Yossi Silman but was released after being questioned, according to a 2014 Haaretz report. Shem-Tov revealed private information about Silman on her blog, including unpaid fines and loans which Silman owed. Silman turned to the police for alleged harassment, invasion of privacy and document theft.

“Shem-Tov belongs to a fringe group that exploits the Internet to tarnish welfare authorities, taking advantage of private client information, which prevents any response,” Silman said at the time. “It’s time to stand up to this handful of agitators.”

In February 2017, Shem-Tov was arrested, subsequently indicted and detained for 21 months until she was released last month under restricted conditions. She has been accused of 120 online crimes against judges and welfare and legal officials, including extortion, privacy invasion, violation of gag orders and others.

State prosecutors, who dubbed the case as the "online terrorism affair" reportedly told Shem-Tov's lawyer that they're demanding a "double figure" sentence and will not back down on it. However, the Haaretz report emphasized that there is no precedent for such a long sentence for defendants in similar cases in the past.




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