Israeli police questioned U.S. magnate Sheldon Adelson on Thursday as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a law enforcement source said.
Netanyahu is suspected in two separate criminal cases of abuse of office. He denies wrongdoing in both cases, and charges have yet to be brought against him.
The source said that Adelson gave his testimony in regard to what police have dubbed “Case 2000,” involving suspicions Netanyahu negotiated a deal in 2015 for favorable press coverage with the owner of Yediot Acharonot.
Adelson, a supporter of Netanyahu and President Donald Trump and a major donor to the Republican Party, owns the free daily Yisrael Hayom. The handout is staunchly pro-Netanyahu and it is Yediot Acharonot‘s main competitor.
Haaretz and Channel 2 reported in January that the deal Netanyahu discussed with Yediot Acharonot‘s owner was better coverage in return for curbs, possibly through legislation, on competition from Yisrael Hayom.
Adelson, who visits Israel periodically and was questioned in a police station near Tel Aviv, is not a suspect, said the law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Moshe Negbi, Israel Radio’s legal affairs expert, said police would be trying to ascertain from Adelson whether Netanyahu had influence on Yisrael Hayom.
The second case Netanyahu is being investigated for involves suspicions of receiving gifts from businessmen in breach of his role as a public servant.