Confidant of Israel's Netanyahu turns state's witness in corruption case: Media

The logo of Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp, the country's largest telecom group, is seen outside their headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 21, 2017.
The logo of Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp, the country's largest telecom group, is seen outside their headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 21, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state about alleged corrupt dealings between the government and the country's biggest telecoms group, Israeli media reported on Wednesday (Feb 21).

Mr Shlomo Filber, who was arrested this week along with top executives at Bezeq Telecom, had been a personal appointment of Mr Netanyahu's to head the Communications Ministry.

Police now suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits, and in return, Mr Netanyahu received favourable media coverage on a popular news website that is also controlled by Bezeq's former chairman.

The Bezeq executives have denied the allegations.

Israel's Ynet news website reported that Mr Filber has now agreed to testify for the state in the case, a development that could further complicate things for Mr Netanyahu as he battles mounting corruption allegations.

Israeli authorities were not immediately available to confirm that a deal with Mr Filber had been reached.

On Tuesday, police alleged that Mr Netanyahu's former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Mr Netanyahu's wife. Mr Netanyahu himself is suspect in two other investigations.

The right-wing leader, in office for 12 years since 1996, has denied wrongdoing in any of the cases, calling them a political "witch hunt".