Netanyahu indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust

Netanyahu indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust

PTI file photo

Israel's attorney general on Thursday formally charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases, throwing the country's paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening the long-time leader's grip on power.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime. Mandelblit was set to issue a formal statement later on Thursday.

Allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

The indictment does not require Netanyahu to resign but is expected to raise pressure on him to step down.

Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witchhunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system. Netanyahu was scheduled to issue a statement later on Thursday.