Google Representatives who were expected to testify in a court trial being conducted against the planetary juggernaut have refused to come to Israel. The reason: the precarious security situation.
A Tel Aviv judge issued an exceptional order to approve their request for a video testimony.
The court hearings were scheduled to take place on November 30 and December 1, at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, but Google’s lawyers in Israel have asked the judge to postpone the hearing dates or, alternatively, to hold them using video conferencing.
The company is being sued by an Israeli businessman claiming the company foreclosed on his account for AdSense, a tool offered by Google to website publishers to sell advertising space.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt visited Israel in June, before the current wave of violence broke out.
But now, Google’s lawyers’ stated that in view of the prevailing security situation in Israel, especially due to the wave of terrorism, the witnesses expressed in the past few days real fear that prevents them from coming to Israel during this period, and requested the court to allow a brief respite of several months until the evidentiary session, in the hope that by then the security situation will improve.
The lawyers, who represent two Google employees in Ireland, the company’s European headquarters, added that their clients have learned that different countries have issued “a kind of travel warnings to Israel, which naturally intensified their and their families’ fears.” They attached an Irish Foreign Ministry and US State Department travel advisories to Israel.
The attorneys wrote:
In light of the above, it seems that the witnesses’ fear is legitimate and perfectly understandable. At the present stage the defendants should not be compelled to come to Israel to testify.
They asked to postpone the court hearing to the end of the first quarter of 2016.
The plaintiff’s lawyers objected, saying it was the product of prejudice. They said:
More stabbing attacks, in proportion to the population, take place in Ireland and the United States than in Israel, but there they receive lower media attention.
They complained that the “defendants’ request is based on prejudice, hysteria and an anti-Israel agenda.” They noted that tourists, diplomats, business people and witnesses continue to arrive in Israel, citing the arrival of a representative for Facebook who came to Israel to testify in another case.
On Wednesday, Judge Michael Tamir decided not to compel the Google representatives to come to Israel and allowed hearing their testimonies via video conferencing, but ruled that the defendants should bear the costs involved.
“I do not accept the plaintiff’s claim that the witnesses should be required to arrive in Israel against their will at a time when travel warnings are being issued,” he said.