Former prime minister Ehud Barak put the now-disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in touch with an Israeli firm comprised mostly of ex-Mossad agents in order to suppress news stories detailing allegations of sexual harassment and assault against dozens of women.
The New Yorker on Monday reported that Weinstein hired private security agencies to “collect information on the women and journalists trying to expose the allegations” that he serially assaulted women, among them Black Cube, a private Israeli intelligence agency headquartered in Tel Aviv.
After Channel 2 reported on Tuesday that Weinstein was introduced to Black Cube by Barak, the former prime minister admitted to putting the producer in touch with agency, but said he did not know why Weinstein was interested in the their services.
“Over a year ago, Barak was asked by Harvey Weinstein if he knew an Israeli company he had heard of, that was capable of helping him with business issues he had. Barak confirmed to [Weinstein] the company he heard of was likely Black Cube,” a spokesperson for Barak said in a statement. “Barak is not personally familiar with the firm or its executives but gave Weinstein its contact information.”
“Barak was not aware until this morning of the fact the company was hired by Weinstein, or for what purposes or operations,” the statement added.
Black Cube told Channel 2 in response to the report that it has a policy of not discussing its clients, but stressed its work is always legal.
On its website, the agency bills itself as a “select group of veterans from the Israeli elite intelligence units that specializes in tailored solutions to complex business and litigation challenges.”
Ronan Farrow, who also authored the initial New Yorker report that detailed claims against Weinstein, said he obtained a copy of the contract between Weinstein and Black Cube that was signed in July.
Farrow reported the “explicit goal of the investigations,” was to “stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein.”
According to the report, during the one-year period the firm worked for Weinstein, Black Cube agents targeted dozens of individuals to collect personal information on them, including their sexual histories, in a bid to prevent them from publicly accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
It said two Black Cube operatives met with Rose McGowan, an American actress who accuses Weinstein of raping her, using fake identities — one as a women’s rights advocate — and secretly recorded their conversations.
Weinstein was said to have closely monitored this work as it was ongoing, although his lawyers worked with investigators as well. This included David Boies, who is most famous for having represented former vice president Al Gore in the highly-consequential Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.
Boies himself signed the contract with Black Cube stipulating that they would work to stop The New York Times from publishing its story on Weinstein. At the same time, his firm was representing The New York Times in separate cases. Boies confirmed to The New Yorker that his law firm engaged in these contracts.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister issued a statement to The New Yorker that accused it of trafficking in “inaccuracies and wild conspiracy theories.”
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.