JERUSALEM (AP) — An aspiring singer who auditioned for Israel’s top TV song competition was placed under house arrest Thursday on suspicion of hacking into international pop star Madonna’s computer and stealing and selling unreleased songs, his lawyer said.
Police said Israel’s cybercrime unit arrested 38-year-old Adi Lederman on Wednesday after an investigation coordinated with the FBI, which confirmed its involvement. Police also accused Lederman of stealing songs from other international artists whom they declined to name.
Songs from Madonna’s upcoming album “Rebel Heart,” to be released in March, were leaked online in December. At the time, she urged her fans not to listen to the stolen copies that had surfaced, writing on Instagram: “I have been violated as a human and an artist.” She later released six songs, calling it an “early Christmas gift” for fans.
Madonna welcomed Lederman’s initial arrest, writing on her Facebook page that she was “profoundly grateful to the FBI, the Israeli Police investigators and anyone else who helped lead to the arrest of this hacker.” She called the hack “deeply devastating.”
Madonna has long claimed a special bond with Israel. The diva has made personal pilgrimages to the country, she practices Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, and she launched her 2012 “MDNA” tour in Israel.
The investigation began after Madonna’s representative in Israel lodged a complaint, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.
Lederman, a Tel Aviv resident, auditioned for the Israeli reality show “A Star is Born” in 2012.
When asked by one of the judges what he does for a living, he responded: “Mainly wasting my life away, it seems, because I’m told that I should be on stage.” He sang Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry About a Thing.”
Efrat Nahmany-Bar, a lawyer for Lederman said he denies the allegations. She said Lederman has not been charged and believes there was not sufficient evidence for an indictment. She said Lederman has no access to computers under the terms of his house arrest.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed from Washington.
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