Harvey Weinstein hired former Israeli intelligence officials to intimidate accusers and news outlets from speaking out against the Hollywood mogul’s sexual assault and rape allegations, the New Yorker reported on Monday.
Weinstein employed the Israeli firm Black Cube, which consists of former Mossad officials and “highly experienced” Israeli military officers according to the firm’s website, to gather information and compile psychological profiles on the accuser’s sexual histories in order to contradict, discredit or intimidate their claims.
In one such instance, two Black Cube operatives with false identities met with actress Rose McGowan – before she publicly accused Weinstein of raping her – to obtain information.
One of the investigators secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan while pretending to be a women’s rights advocates, said the magazine, citing dozens of pages of documents and seven people directly involved in Weinstein’s efforts to discredit the victims.
The spy used a different fake identity to meet with a journalist while claiming to have an accusation against Weinstein, in order to learn which women were talking to the media.
Shortly after the New Yorker published its report, Israel’s Channel 2 released a story saying that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak gave Weinstein Black Cube’s information.
Barak issued a statement to Channel 2 that read: “Over a year ago, he was asked by Weinstein if he knows about an Israeli security firm that Weinstein had heard about and can help him deal with business issues he’s currently facing.”
“Barak confirmed to Weinstein that the firm he heard about was probably Black Cube and that it does operate from Israel. Barak does not personally know the firm or its officials and he only transferred to Weinstein information that allowed him to reach out to them on his own,” the statement read.
Black Cube investigations also sometimes went through Weinstein’s lawyers, according to the magazine. Among them was David Boies, who represented Al Gore in his 2000 presidential election dispute with George W. Bush.
The New Yorker said Boies himself had signed a contract demanding that Black Cube seek to uncover information to stop the publication of a New York Times story about Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations at the same time Boies’ firm was also representing the outlet in a libel case. The New York Times on Monday said they are weighing their options on how to respond.
Boies told the magazine “it was a mistake” to have been involved with Black Cube.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister dismissed the report, saying: “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.”
Black Cube has said that all of its operations are legal and that they do not comment on their clients as a matter of policy.
Avi Yanus and Dan Zorella, who were Israeli intelligence officers, established the Israeli firm in 2010, according to a Haaretz report.
A significant portion of Black Cube’s business revolves around settling “disputes between large business entities” through opposition research and intelligence, Haaretz said.
Some 100 women have now accused Weinstein of misconduct ranging from harassment to rape.[Source: Middle East Eye]