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Israel's Netanyahu Suspect in Corruption Cases, Police Say

  • VOA News

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, in the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of crimes involving bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two corruption cases, Israeli police said Thursday.

Investigators, who have been questioning Netanyahu for months, secured a gag order that limits media coverage of the cases and of talks that are underway to enlist a state witness.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, and his spokesman said in a statement Thursday that the prime minister was the target of "a witch hunt, now at its peak, aimed at changing the government."

"This is destined to fail, for a simple reason: Nothing will happen because nothing happened," the spokesman said.

One case, dubbed "File 1000,'' reportedly involves claims that Netanyahu improperly accepted lavish gifts from wealthy supporters, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

The second, "File 2000,'' reportedly concerns Netanyahu's alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher Arnon Mozes of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper group to promote legislation to weaken Yediot's main competitor in exchange for more favorable coverage of Netanyahu by Yediot.

Netanyahu is not the first Israeli leader to face criminal investigation. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2014, and Ariel Sharon was questioned while in office about allegations of bribery and campaign financing illegalities.

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