התבטאות נדירה של איש העסקים היהודי-בריטי וולטר סוריאנו: אני סובל מנזק היקפי מהקמפיין נגד נתניהו. לטענתו, נרדף בידי כוחות אפלים נסתרים
Walter Soriano is the ultra-Orthodox international fixer who’s worked for everyone from soccer great, Maradona to Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. He’s been an arms dealer, he’s been the muscle to collect debts for Russian oligarch football club owner, Dimitri Rybolovlev. He’s bought off a Russian sex worker who threatened to release an audio tape of her cuddles with Deripaska. He’s Bibi’s favorite bully according to an Israeli TV news report. Yet he remained a Man of Mystery, till today.
The Telegraph published a puff piece on Soriano which offered him free reign in conveying the heartache of being Walter Soriano. In it, he accuses the many “dark forces” arrayed against him of a broad conspiracy to take him down. Luckily, he doesn’t offer any coherent theory of why his enemies are after him: no anti-Semitic or anti-Israel cabals. Or if he did offer, they’re not in the profile.
Despite the “poor pitiful me” act, Soriano is not a good guy. He works for corrupt oligarchs and prime ministers. He sells weapons at steep profit to failed states. He hires Israeli former military hackers to spy on his clients’ enemies. Yet none of that was in the article. But despite all this, the report was very helpful, since Soriano has never spoken publicly and never had his picture published.
There are a number of curious claims the Anglo-Argentine-Israeli makes. He was invited by the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify before it about any connections he might have to Trump confidants Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort or the consultant behind the Trump dossier, Christopher Steele. As Soriano was a secondary figure in its investigation, the Senate didn’t pursue him. And he clearly didn’t respond. But the reason he offered is bizarre:
To add to the mystery, he insists he has never received the letter and only heard of its existence through news reports.
Believe me, the U.S. Senate knows how to reach potential witnesses. It doesn’t invite them via journalists. The letter was sent to his London business address. As for ‘receiving’ it, he’s parsing that the way Bill Clinton tried to parse the word “is.” The letter certainly reached his office. Whether he physically received it into his hands may be another matter.
The Telegraph notes that the subject of its profile has sued Twitter for being a willing participant in the auto da fe against him:
Mr Soriano has begun a legal action against Twitter in an attempt to stop “false and malicious” allegations being posted online. Tweets, say his lawyers, falsely claim that “our client is a Russian and Israeli ‘double agent’ and a ‘fixer’ for Russian oligarchs”.
Most of the tweets he’s complaining about were posted by Forensic News, which offered some juicy reporting about him, and by me. I RTed its articles. Both of us received notices from Twitter that a third-party had complained about them. But the social media platform refused to remove them (it is far more amendable to censoring tweets when a government official demands such action). And there they remain for all to see.
However, no journalist has ever posted on Twitter that he is a “Russian and Israeli ‘double agent.'” He doesn’t have to be. In fact, it would probably limit his earning potential. As for accusing him of being a “fixer” for oligarchs, he is and I did call him that.
Soriano complains that his dark days began:
…When ‘unfounded rumours’ were aired almost two years ago on Israeli radio accusing him of being behind the surveillance of police officers investigating Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
Mr Soriano told The Telegraph: “The unfounded rumours raised… were completely false and delusional.”
The first report was actually not on radio, but on TV (as I recall). It said he’d orchestrated a campaign to spy on Israeli police investigating Netanyahu for corruption. What’s curious about this is that while he has sued many people, including me, who opined on this news report, he hasn’t sued the TV news channel which aired the original piece. In fact, it’s still available online. Despite this, he’s sued Raviv Drucker, 7th Eye, an ultra-Orthodox publication, and myself, all of whom referred to this original report.
To hear Soriano tell it, he’s a private man who wants nothing more than to sit back in his rocking chair and dandle his grandchildren on his knee. But some very bad people have it out for him:
There are certain dark forces acting against me trying to relate me with things I have nothing to do with and they don’t hide it. Their claims are beyond the sublime, pathetic and ridiculous.”
He insisted that he had “zero political business connections and particularly not in Israel”. He added: “Historically I have kept myself out of politics or the public domain.
It’s hard for me to understand how selling helicopters to Georgia at a steep profit while allegedly paying off the defense minister, who later fled the country after being charged with corruption, is not political.
For those of you wondering how an Israeli security consultant becomes the manager for Diego Maradona, that’s interesting to learn:
Mr Soriano…was an amateur footballer in Argentina who met Maradona, probably the world’s greatest ever player, through another Argentinian Claudio Caniggia.
Here is the final piece of self-pity that Soriano offers his journalist-Boswell:
Mr Soriano said he has now spent a small fortune trying to defend his reputation and has turned his anger on social media companies. He alleged: “I am a victim of the misuse of the media in order to defame somebody – in this case myself – serving dark and hidden forces, where you don’t have even the right even to defend yourself.”
Keep in mind that these myriad of lawsuits were launched by him against journalists doing their job. No one came after him and sued him, forcing him to hire high-priced lawyers. He brought all this on himself. Also, all of his efforts to remove any information about him online have actually served the opposite purpose. Whereas he was anonymous until a few years ago, now media outlets around the world have profiled him and his more unsavory activities. In this digital age, you can’t lock the barn after the horses have escaped. It’s just too late. And the harder you try to do it, the more people wonder what you’re trying to hide.
One final irony: if you’re someone of any reasonable level of distinction or notoriety there is a Wikipedia article about you. Some are good. Some not so good. But it’s exceedingly rare for any subject of such articles to attempt to force the takedown of their own profile. Soriano is trying to do precisely that in Hebrew Wikipedia. According to the Discussion page, his lawyer sent a letter demanding the article be removed. Though editors at Hebrew Wikipedia are exceedingly deferential to the security services and people like Soriano with an intelligence background, I’m happy to say only one editor voted for removal. So the article is here to stay. For some reason, there is no English-language Wikipedia article on Soriano. Wiki-editors, get busy!
The most comprehensive accounting of Soriano’s complex web of intrigue is at Forensic News.