British tabloid names Israeli Air Force veteran as one of Weinstein's spies
ROBYN BECK (AFP)
A British tabloid on Thursday named Israeli Air Force veteran Stella Penn Pechanac as one of the Israeli intelligence operatives hired by disgraced director Harvey Weinstein in order to suppress accusers from going public with claims of sexual misconduct, assault, and rape against him.
The Daily Mail reported that Penn Pechanac, who lives in Jaffa, Israel, works for the Israeli private intelligence firm, Black Cube, a firm largely run by former officers of Israel's Mossad that was hired by Weinstein to bury allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
According to the report, it was Penn Pechanac who met with one of Weinstein's most outspoken accusers -- actress Rose McGowan -- before she publicly accused Weinstein of raping her in order to glean information about what she was set to reveal.
Penn Pechanac used the alias "Diana Filip" and posed as a women's rights advocate working for a fake London-based investment company while secretly recording at least four meetings with McGowan.
A source familiar with Black Cube's investigations on behalf of Weinstein told i24NEWS on Tuesday that an undercover operative, now apparently identified as Penn Pechanac, managed to obtain a partial transcript of a book by McGowan that was set to lift the lid on sexual misconduct in Hollywood.
The intelligence firm, which maintains several offices around the world including in Tel Aviv, ended its relationship with Weinstein when "they felt they could not help him anymore," the source told i24NEWS.
There is little information published online about Penn Pechanac, except for a brief bio detailing her involvement in an educational job-placement initiative called "Recalculating the Educational Route."
According to that bio, Penn Pechanac immigrated to Israel in 1994 from Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia and served as a lieutenant in the Israeli Air Force. She speaks Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, English and conversational Spanish, and reportedly currently lives in Jaffa with her husband.
The Daily Mail report could not immediately be confirmed.
The elusive firm issued a statement Thursday evening that, as per its policy, it would never discuss its customers with any third party and would "never confirm or deny any speculation about its work," but added that "it does not deal with projects related to sexual harassment or violence of any kind," and condemns any act of violence -- especially sexual harassment.
The company said it would also be donating all its profits from the case to organizations that support victims of sexual assault in Tel Aviv, London, and New York.
On Monday The New Yorker published an expose alleging that Weinstein -- who faces up to one hundred accusations of sexual misconduct, assault and rape -- hired a legion of highly trained spies in order to suppress his accusers.
On Tuesday a source familiar with the investigative work done for Weinstein confirmed to i24NEWS that "Black Cube was hired in the spring to find out about the people who were launching a campaign against Harvey Weinstein: shareholders, partners, journalists and actress Rose McGowan."
Also on Tuesday, Israel's Channel Two reported that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak helped connect Weinstein with the company.
A spokesperson for Barak told the channel that "over a year ago" Weinstein asked Barak for a recommendation of an Israel company who could help him with "business issues" he faced, and the former premier and defense minister duly handed over contacts for the murky firm, adding that he was not aware until Tuesday what the services were that Weinstein was after.
A Black Cube spokesperson told The New Yorker that they do not comment on the details of their work, and added that "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.”
(Staff with agencies)
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