Judge approves search of PM adviser's phones

Court says there were flaws in confiscation of the phones of Netanyahu’s advisers but allows "measured search warrants".

Ben Ariel ,

Yonatan Urich
Yonatan Urich
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge Ala Masarwa ruled on Wednesday evening, after a hearing on the confiscation of the phones of Prime Minister's Binyamin Netanyahu’s advisers that "there were indeed flaws in the conduct of the unit investigating against the suspects in this case."

At the same time, the judge accepted the request for "measured search warrants suggesting a ‘surgical’ and defined search." The legal counsels of the Prime Minister's advisers are expected to appeal the ruling.

"First of all, the search and seizure of the phones without prior request for a court order to issue a judicial order is a significant flaw. This is even more true when it comes to an offense dated August 29, 2019, for which a complaint was filed on September 4, 2019, when the suspects were investigated at the end of October 2019, and time passed between the date on which the suspects were named as being involved and the date of their investigation. During this time it was possible to appeal to the court for the issuance of a judicial order," the judge wrote.

"The demand from one of the suspects, who showed up for his interrogation without his cellphone, to go back and be accompanied by a police officer, only to return to interrogation with the device, intensifies the flaw in the police's refusal to issue a judicial order. This fact indicates a plan of investigation intended from the start to infiltrate the phone (without a judicial order),” he added.

"I agree with the defense attorneys’ argument that the consent of the suspects, without them being explained about their right to object to the search and that opposition to the search will not serve as evidence against them, is not considered consent. In particular, this is the case when searching for computer material which is the personal mobile phone. In the absence of a judicial order, the investigating unit had to obtain an informed consent from the suspects. The unorganized search method during the investigation, while looking at the telephone in the presence of the suspect, intensifies the flaw in it. The demand from one of the suspects to return to his vehicle in order to bring the phone adds another layer of harm to the suspects."

Attorneys Amit Hadad and Noa Milstein, who represent the Prime Minister’s spokesmen Ofer Golan and Yonatan Urich, said following the ruling, "The court's harsh criticism of the police and the prosecution requires the closure of the case and the return of the mobile phones to the Prime Minister’s advisers. We will review the ruling and appeal it immediately."



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