Report: Weinstein hired Israeli spy to gather intel on 'enemies'
Israeli actress Stella Penn Pechanac reportedly hired by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to gather information on actress Rose McGowan, who alleged Weinstein raped her; Weinstein reportedly paid private intelligence firm $1.3 million to stop other actresses coming forward.
Penn, an employee of intelligence firm "Black Cube", was reportedly collecting information about one of the biggest names alleging mistreatment by Weinstein, actress Rose McGowan, who accused the producer of rape.
Penn reportedly posed as a women's rights activist and recorded at least four meetings with McGowan in an attempt to collect sensitive information which could be used as leverage against her in a bid to prevent her from publically coming forward with the details of the abuse she suffered at Weinstein's hands.
Penn presented herself to McGowan as "Diana Philip", a top London investment firm executive, and supposedly offered her $60,000 for participating in a conference on combating discrimination against women in the workplace.
In the next few months the two met several times, including in New York and Los Angeles hotels, where Penn pressured McGowan to divulge information. The Daily Mail further claimed Penn was recently married and resides in Jaffa.
In Israel the mysterious spy is known as Stella Pechanac, an actress who graduated from Nissan Nativ's famed acting studio. Pechanac performed in plays alongside such luminaries of the stage as Shlomo Vishinsky, Jason Danino-Holt, Gaia Shalita Katz, Liel Danir, Meggie Azarzer and others.
Penn's grandmother, Zejneba Hardaga, was a Bosnian Righteous among the Nations who saved Jewish families from the Nazis in Sarajevo during the Holocaust. Hardaga was the first Muslim woman bestowed with the honor.
In a 2011 interview she gave to Yedioth Ahronoth, Pechanac said, "After the army I sort of began examining myself inwardly and wanted to reconnect with my past. Today I'm both Esther and Stella. I'm the granddaughter of a Muslim woman and the daughter of a Christina father and Muslim mother, who converted to Judaism. And I try to encompass all of that in my person."
On her acting career, Pechanac said, "I always get asked where I'm from in auditions. I don't look Israeli and no matter how much I try and distance myself from labels, being the granddaughter of a Muslim and all that, I'll always be told I should play the foreigner. They'll pick up on my accent and won't let me place the native-born Israeli. I've been told I was beautiful and charismatic, but that a special part that needs to be written for me."
The Daily Mail reported Weinstein paid Black Cube no less than 1.3 million dollars to spy on his "enemies", including multiple actresses and fashion designer Kenneth Cole. The contract between the parties was reportedly signed October 24, 2016.
The details of Weinstein's intelligence-gathering network appear in the agreement, a copy of which New Yorker magazine obtained. The agreement stated its aim was to prevent Weinstein's indiscretions from becoming public. During the course of Black Cube's investigations, information was gathered on dozens of women, for which psychological profiles were reportedly constructed. Their sexual history was also traced.
Weinstein oversaw the investigations himself, with the help of his attorneys, and also utilized people formerly employed in the movie industry.
The founder of Black Cube is Dan Zorella, 32, formerly of one of Israel's classified intelligence units. Zorella founded the company four years ago with his friend Avi Yanus. Their goal was to build a civilian version of intelligence agencies such as the British MI6, American CIA or Israeli Mossad.
What originated as a start-up created by friends transformed into a gigantic company employing dozens of former Israeli intelligence officials, from computer whizzes to stealth operatives with proven kills.
"It is Black Cube's policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company's work," a Black Cube spokesman said.
"Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the US, gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns. The company does not get involved in family disputes or sexual harassment cases.
"It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates –strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world."