Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper on Thursday defended its decision to publish photos of one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election rivals entering the mansion of disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2016.
Ehud Barak’s lawyers wrote to the Daily Mail on Wednesday demanding that it retract Tuesday’s story and pay “substantial damages to vindicate his reputation and compensate him”.
Epstein had already been convicted in 2009 as a sex felon and served a 13-month prison term.
He was arrested in New York on July 8 this year on charges of sexually exploiting dozens of underage girls.
The Daily Mail “stands by its recent story concerning Ehud Barak’s relationship with the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein 100 percent,” the newspaper said in a statement to AFP.
“We note that Mr Barak’s assertion that he was not party to Mr Epstein’s illegal activities is a denial of a claim we have never made.”
The popular newspaper and website ran photos of four young women separately entering Epstein’s New York residence around the same time as Barak himself went in.
Israeli media have also highlighted his past business ties with Epstein.
Barak hinted that Netanyahu and his allies could ultimately be behind the media attention.
The Daily Mail firmly rejected the claim.
“The reason for the latest article is that Mr Barak has now admitted he is the man in the photographs,” the Daily Mail statement said.
It added that it would not be removing the story from its website because “it is absolutely clear that this is a story of the utmost public interest”.
Barak is a former armed forces chief of staff who succeeded Netanyahu as prime minister in 1999 and served as defence minister under him from 2009 to 2013 before retiring from politics.
He formed a new party in June that will compete in September legislative elections Netanyahu called after being unable to form a new government in the wake of inconclusive April polls.
Barak sounded a defiant note in the face of the mounting allegations at a rally late Wednesday.
“I am a feminist,” he said to audience applause.
French model tycoon at heart of Epstein scandal accusations
A formerly powerful French modeling tycoon has emerged as a key figure in the scandal surrounding US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in jail while facing charges of sexually trafficking minors.
Jean-Luc Brunel, regarded as a close friend and ally of the disgraced US financier, has been accused in court documents of procuring young girls for Epstein, as well as of rape. He has in the past unequivocally denied the accusations.
The model scout, an influential figure in the industry, has always been a low-profile figure and like some other former Epstein allies vanished after the financier was charged in early July.
‘Megalomaniacal, paranoid, and psychopathic’: Economist sounds the alarm on Trump’s ‘bottomless malevolence’
Economist Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, has written a frightening warning about President Donald Trump's "paranoid and psychopathic" leadership style, and he says it could have disastrous consequences for the world if he wins a second term.
In an essay published at progressive news website Common Dreams, Sachs argues that it would be a grave mistake to treat Trump like a cynical politician, when in reality he is an impulsive and vindictive narcissist who acts on his angry whims.
Trump baselessly accuses Democratic lawmaker of ‘violence’?? in insane tweet
President Donald Trump, in a strangely giddy and unhinged tweet on Tuesday baselessly accused Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of “violence.”
“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long,” Trump tweeted. “Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
It’s unclear what the president was referring to when he accused the Michigan Congresswoman of violence, but his other remarks appear to be directed at a press conference she held Monday.