Jerusalem councilman Moshe Lion, a close associate of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, was detained and questioned for several hours on Sunday in connection with the corruption scandal involving members of the Yisrael Beytenu party, it has been cleared for publication.
Lion, who unsuccessfully tried to run for mayor of Jerusalem, was released following the questioning to house arrest for a period of five days.
He was reportedly a candidate for Yisrael Beytenu’s list for the upcoming Knesset elections.
Lion’s media adviser, Amir Dan, said on Sunday night that “Lion was questioned during the day, and cooperated fully throughout the investigation. The investigators treated him in a practical and fair manner.”
So far, 30 senior figures, including Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum and former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, both of Yisrael Beytenu, have been brought in for investigation for involvement in corruption. Many conspirators have also been detained.
A gag order was released on the case Wednesday morning, revealing that the suspects apparently illegally allocated budgets to NPOs and different sources, transferred funds to regional council organizations, and laundered money through "straw company" fronts.
Liberman himself, however, is not a suspect in the current corruption scandal. Earlier Sunday, he criticized the State Attorney's Office, accusing them of purposefully making an undercover investigation visible during the election campaign, in order to hurt his party.
"The investigation was completely coordinated with the election timetable," Liberman stressed, adding the claim that there were leaks during the investigation.
"I heard that hundreds more detainees were coming. This was a planned and well-timed maneuver. From what we have seen in the media there will be more waves of arrests and more leaks - deliberate and tendentious leaks. So this raises a lot of questions,” he added.
In a post on his Facebook page on Friday afternoon, Liberman blamed “mysterious forces” which, he said, always interfere in Yisrael Beytenu’s campaign before every election, "violating their right to a fair campaign."
"As far as Yisrael Beytenu is concerned - there are no elections without investigation," wrote Liberman.
"I'm certain of the innocence of all our friends, and stress again that one should not rush to decide the fate of the people,” he added.
“I also strongly reject the attempt to tarnish Yisrael Beytenu as a whole. We've known how to deal with this every time and we came out stronger; this time, too, we will come out strong and we will continue to work for the security and unity of the State of Israel.”