The main suspects in the Population Registry scandal claimed Monday that the authorities were deliberately exaggerating the scope of the affair in an attempt to pretend innocence.
Earlier, the Justice Ministry's Law, Information and Technology Authority (LITA) revealed the existence of an investigation into a 2006 hacking into the Population Registry database, which left the personal information of nine million Israeli citizens exposed.
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The suspects claim that the software they are accused of using in order to copy the database – Agron – is widely in use by legal firms. "What's so secretive here? This information can be found in the Yellow Pages and a thousand other places," one of the suspects said.
"This is a very popular database. I noticed that a lot of people had it, so it didn’t occur to me that having a copy was prohibited," another suspect told Ynet. "I thought it was a basic, names and addresses database. I didn't think it had sensitive or secret information.
"I just don’t get what's the big deal here. I would never dare do anything of a criminal nature and this investigation came as a big surprise to me. There really is nothing to that information."
A third suspect in the case echoed the sentiment: "This kind of software is used all the time by many places. You can find it in almost every law firm. Saying today that new information was exposed is pretending innocence."
The prime suspect in the case has denied all the allegations against him. His attorney, Yair Golan, said that his client maintains his innocence and that he was released on bail and under court restrictions.
Attorney Gil Dahoah, who represents one of the suspects, said that he believes that investigators were "making a mountain out of a molehill. Like many other investigations, this too will end with nothing," he said. "The State of Israel knows that every junior private investigator can get his hands on its Population Registry – that's been the case for years.
"The State has chosen not to deal with this phenomenon and has not barred the use of this database until now."