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Israeli cleaner who worked at defense minister’s house arrested on spying allegations

Israeli security services (Shin Bet) and the Israeli police arrested an Israeli cleaner who worked at Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s house earlier this month on allegations he offered to help spy for Iran. 

Omri Goren, 37, “approached on his initiative, via a social media network, to an individual associated with Iran and offered to help him in various ways, in light of his access to the minister’s home,” the ISS said in a statement. 

Goren contacted the Iranian hacker group Black Shadow under a false identity via the Telegram app, presenting himself as someone who worked for Gantz and saying he could help the group in various ways, an indictment against him alleged. The indictment stated that he also offered to install malware on Gantz’s computer. The suspect allegedly asked for money and supplied photos of Gantz’s personal belongings, including a computer, a desk, a phone, a tablet, a safe, a shredder, a package that included a sticker displaying an IP address, and private bills of the family. 

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Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz during an election campaign in Ramat Gan on Feb. 25. Recently, a cleaner who worked for Gantz was arrested on allegations that he offered to help spy for Iran.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz during an election campaign in Ramat Gan on Feb. 25. Recently, a cleaner who worked for Gantz was arrested on allegations that he offered to help spy for Iran.
(Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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The suspect’s public defender, attorney Gal Wolf, said his client claimed he acted out of “economic distress.” 

Shin Bet emphasized that Goren did not have access to any classified information because of the data security protocol at the home and therefore could not have passed on any classified information. However, security protocols have been reviewed amid this incident. 

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White political party, during an election campaign event in Yahalom Theatre, Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. 

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White political party, during an election campaign event in Yahalom Theatre, Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. 
(Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Israeli media report Goren had a criminal record with five past convictions, including bank robbery, burglary and theft, which led to four prison sentences. 

Last month, another Iranian hacker group, Moses Staff, published personal photos of Gantz. 

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Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White Party, gives a statement to the press on March 1, 2020, in Ramat Gan, Israel. 

Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White Party, gives a statement to the press on March 1, 2020, in Ramat Gan, Israel. 
(Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Black Shadow has been active in recent months, hacking into various Israeli companies and releasing names and personal documents. 

Israel and Iran have been involved for years in a mutual cyberwar. 

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