Facing Possible Indictment In Fraud Case, Netanyahu Denies Wrongdoing | WGLT

Facing Possible Indictment In Fraud Case, Netanyahu Denies Wrongdoing

Dec 3, 2018
Originally published on December 3, 2018 7:22 am
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Israeli police are recommending that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery. It is the latest corruption allegation Netanyahu faces as he seeks re-election next year. NPR's Daniel Estrin has more from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Police say Netanyahu advanced a merger deal, reportedly worth millions of dollars, to the chief shareholder of a major Israeli telecom company. In an exchange from 2012 to 2017, Netanyahu and his associates allegedly dictated coverage on the company's news site to get flattering articles and photos on the site and removed critical stories. An Israeli TV program recently aired interviews with former editors at the news site Walla!News.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: One former editor said he published an article with the headline quoting a lawmaker saying Netanyahu was blind to increasing poverty in Israel and that editors were instructed to take down the article. Israeli police say there's enough evidence to charge Netanyahu and his wife with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: Speaking to his supporters last night, Netanyahu accused the police of a witch hunt against him. This is the third corruption case Netanyahu is facing. Earlier this year, police recommended he be indicted for allegedly accepting bribes from wealthy businessmen and for offering a newspaper owner favorable legislation in exchange for good press. The latest case is the most serious charge against Netanyahu. Tal Schneider, political and diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli Globes newspaper, says Netanyahu could still win re-election next year, even with the corruption scandals.

TAL SCHNEIDER: Netanyahu's popularity in the polls right now is skyrocketing. And if we are going to the election while his popularity is so high, he might actually win while being a suspect.

ESTRIN: Netanyahu has been in power for almost a decade, and many Israeli voters see him as being strong on security. Netanyahu says he's focusing on what's important for his country. Today he meets Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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