ISSN 2330-717X

Weinstein Hired Same Firm That Spied On Romania’s Kovesi

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By Ana Maria Touma

American producer Harvey Weinstein hired the same Israeli intelligence company that spied on Romania’s anti-graft chief prosecutor to bury allegations of sexual harassment in 2016, the New Yorker reports.

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of sexual harassment and rape by scores of women, hired private investigators from an Israeli firm, whose agents were jailed in Romania for spying on the country’s chief anti-graft prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, New Yorker magazine reported Tuesday.

New Yorker said that in autumn 2016, Weinstein set out to suppress allegations of sexual harassment, hiring the private security agencies to collect information on the women and journalists involved in trying to expose the allegations.

Reporters say that dozens of pages of documents show that Weinstein hired Kroll – one of the world’s largest corporate intelligence companies – and Black Cube, an enterprise run by former Mossad agents.

Black Cube declined to comment on any work it did for Weinstein.

In Romania, two Israeli citizens contracted by Black Cube were sentenced in 2017 for cyber-identity theft after they tried to spy on anti-graft chief prosecutor Laura Condruta Kovesi. A third one, Yossi Barkshtein, is still unaccounted for.

Weiner and Geclowicz both pleaded guilty and made deals with the organized crime prosecutors to receive reduced sentences. Geclowitz received a two year and eight months suspended sentence in November 2016 and Weiner received the same sentence in January 2017.

According to organised crime prosecutors, Weiner was an IT expert hired to handle phishing attacks and obtain Kovesi’s email credentials. Geclowitz had previously called family members and friends to obtain email addresses belonging to the anti-graft chief prosecutor.

A former Romanian intelligence officer indicted for corruption in a different case was also arrested and prosecuted for allegedly turning a blind eye to the whole operation.

Billionaire Benny Steinmetz, political consultant Tal Silberstein and Romanian IT tycoon Sebastian Ghita were also investigated by Romanian organised crime prosecutors in connection with cyber-identity theft.

Romania saw its largest protests since the fall of communism at the beginning of 2017. The social movement was triggered by Social Democrat moves to change justice laws, seen as an attempt to intimidate and curb the independence of anti-graft prosecutors. Renewed protests took place last Sunday in various cities across Romania.

US-based Kroll was hired by the Bank of Moldova to conduct an investigation into fraud which saw a billion dollars disappear from three Moldovan banks in 2014.


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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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