Israel defence minister’s housekeeper charged with spying

Israel has charged the housekeeper for the country’s defence minister with espionage for offering to spy for hackers reportedly linked to Iran.

The man, identified as Omri Goren, reportedly has a criminal record but worked at Benny Gantz’s home as a cleaner and caretaker.

His arrest raised questions about the thoroughness of background checks of people with access to Israel’s leaders. The Shin Bet security service, which announced the arrest, said it was reviewing its vetting procedures.

According to the security service and the indictment, Goren saw reports in the Israeli media about a hacker group called “Black Shadow”. He looked up the group and used the Telegram app to contact one of its agents, presenting himself as someone who worked for Gantz. Goren demonstrated his access to the defence minister by sending photographs of various items in Gantz’s home, including his computer.

The government said Goren, also identified in the indictment under the name Gorochovsky, discussed infecting Gantz’s computer with malware but was arrested before any plans were carried out. He had no access to classified material, it said.

Israeli media reported that Goren has been jailed four times, including for armed robbery and breaking into homes. According to the reports, he did not undergo a security review before working for Gantz.

Goren’s public defender, Gal Wolf, was quoted in news reports as saying the suspect was desperate for money and had no intention of damaging national security.

According to Israeli media, “Black Shadow” has been linked to Iran and is responsible for a series of hacking attacks on widely used websites.

“There is concern about the entire security screening system in the State of Israel, which is funded by tens of millions of shekels from taxpayers every year,” tweeted Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Walla news. “The Iranians must be bursting with laughter.”

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