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Netanyahu ex-top aide agrees to testify in PM graft probe

Zeus 43 Aug 4
Netanyahu speaks out amid corruption probes
  • Netanyahu is tied to two cases involving bribery, fraud and breach of trust
  • Ex-aide Ari Harow served under Netanyahu when he was elected in 2009

Jerusalem (CNN)An ongoing criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a major step forward as his former chief-of-staff has agreed to testify against him, a court-issued gag order released by police reveals.

American-born Ari Harow, who served under the Prime Minister when he was elected in 2009, will cooperate with investigators in two cases, involving bribery, fraud and breach of trust, tied to Netanyahu.

As part of the deal, Harow agreed to plead guilty of committing fraud and breach of trust in an entirely separate case. In exchange, prosecutors will request that Harow be handed six months of community service and a fine of 700,000 shekels (around $200,000) instead of a jail term, which such offenses usually attract.

The deal with was authorized by Israel's Attorney General and was announced by police on Friday.

The announcement came just 12 hours after a court-issued gag order specified the alleged offenses of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for the first time. Netanyahu has been questioned as a suspect in the two cases.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the cases, and on Friday he dismissed the latest developments once again.

In a short video posted on his Facebook page just hours after the deal with Harow was announced, Netanyahu wrapped up a discussion on various topics by saying: "I cannot end without reference to this week's latest affair. I do not pay attention to background noises and I continue working for you."

One case, known as Case 1000, involves allegations concerning inappropriate acceptance of gifts from businessmen.

In the other, Case 2000, Netanyahu is alleged to have colluded with a newspaper owner to have negative coverage of him toned down. In exchange, Netanyahu allegedly assured the owner that the circulation of a rival paper would be reduced.

Both gag orders issued prohibit publication of certain details of both the investigation and the deal with Harow.

Police are also investigating a third case -- Case 3000 -- which involves the purchase of German submarines and attack boats. The procurements were made during Netanyahu's premiership, but so far, he has not been questioned and the Attorney General has said he is not a target of the investigation.