Phones belonging to MKs and officials in Blue and White were not hacked by the Russians after all, party chairman Benny Gantz said Thursday morning. In the wake of the report on Channel 12 Wednesday night that the private investigators that Gantz had hired had discovered signs of “Russian hacking,” Gantz told Army Radio Thursday that this was not the case.
“There was a suspicion that the phones had been hacked, but this has been rejected,” Gantz said. “We examined the results of the analysis done on the phones, and there appeared to be something wrong,” which is why hacking was assumed. But, Gantz said, whatever the problem was, “I don’t believe the Russians were involved and I do not want to believe there is an element in the country that is activating the Russians in this campaign. The report we received did not mention Russian involvement.”
Meanwhile Thursday morning, Walla News reported that there was much speculation in Blue and White on who leaked the apparent fake news about the Russian hacking – and why they would do this. Several fingers have been pointed at CGI, the investigative firm Gantz hired to track down the sources of leaks of comments he has made in closed meetings that have caused him some embarrassment.
But CGI head Yaakov Peri denied the accusation. “We told Blue and White that there were four or five phones that were ‘problematic’ and we recommended that they report this to police,” he said. “We did not specify Russians as the source of the issue, but we did mention ‘hostile elements,’ almost definitely based in Eastern Europe.” As far as who leaked the story, Peri said “the media makes up quotes that were never said by anyone. We have an agreement with Blue and White, and if there are rumors that we are leaking information about them, you need to ask them why they hired us.”
Peri also denied reports from last week that CGI had fingered several high-ranking members of Yesh Atid as the source of the leaks of comments made by Gantz. “That information did not come from CGI,” he said.
A report in Yediot Acharonot last week said that the CGI investigators have found the source of the Blue and White leaks, including an activist from Yesh Atid, and an MK from that faction of Blue and White. Among the leaks that were reported in the media were claims that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “would physically harm me or even kill me if he could get away with it,” that he did not rule out a coalition with Netanyahu, and that he would do “anything possible” to get chareidi parties to join a coalition led by him.
The leaks have caused substantial damage to Gantz’s reputation. To get to the bottom of the leaks, Gantz hired an agency called the CGI Group, headed by former Yesh Atid MK and Shin Bet head Yaakov Peri. The agency was instructed to “suspect everyone,” the report said, and instituted numerous technological innovations to catch the leaker. It also developed several “false flag” detection plans which is shared with suspects, to ensure that they do not realize that they are suspects.