Four young men were arrested on Monday on suspicion of disseminating nude photos and videos of hundreds of women, including minors, without the women’s knowledge or consent.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, the men are in their 20s, and one of them is an IDF soldier. The victims are believed to be women ages 14-40, and include celebrities.
The computers of the four men, who live in the northern cities of Hadera, Caesarea and Haifa, were seized upon their arrest. The investigation was handled by the cyber department of the Tel Aviv Police in recent months.
The men are believed to have distributed the images and videos via Telegram, Discord and other messaging platforms.
The suspects are slated to be arraigned at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Monday, where a judge will decide if they will remain in custody, as police have requested.
According to Ynet, none of the four men have any criminal background. They are accused of opening groups on social media platforms to share the images, including groups that charged for access.
Police Superintendent Nir Sadeh, the head of the Tel Aviv Police’s cyber unit, told the Ynet news site that some of those involved in the operation worked undercover to identify the alleged perpetrators.
“During the undercover investigation, several technological operations were carried out through which we were able to overcome the anonymity [protocols] on the Telegram and Discord platforms,” said Sadeh. “It’s important to remember that these women and minors are the victims. Their details and materials were shared without their permission or consent.”
In 2014, Israel became the first country to ban the distribution of so-called revenge porn in a bid to prevent the distribution of pornographic content over the internet.
The law, which targets sexually explicit media posted without the depicted person’s knowledge or consent, also covers content shared on social media. It stipulates that those found guilty of posting such content will be prosecuted as sex offenders, and that the offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.