(JTA) — The president of a Swiss Jewish community denied accusations that he helped leak nude photos of a pro-Palestinian mayor who had sent them to a younger woman.
Josef Bollag, who heads the Baden Jewish community, issued the denial last week in an Op-Ed that he wrote amid the unfolding of a scandal that forced Mayor Geri Muller to temporarily step down as mayor, though he was reinstated this week. Bollag is a longtime critic of Muller over Muller’s harsh criticism of Israel and advocacy of Iran.
The woman, a 33-year-old teacher identified in the Swiss media only by her initials, N.W., “made contact with me and in no time did I press to hand over the incriminating material about Geri Muller to media,” Bollag wrote in the op-ed. which was reproduced by the Neue Zurcher Zeitung daily on Aug. 26.
The affair, known locally as G|eri-gate or Mullergate, was first reported last month by the Schweiz am Sonntag weekly. According to the publication, Muller, 52, sent the woman nude photos of himself while posing at his office at Baden-Baden City Hall.
The weekly did not publish the photos but wrote about their existence after receiving copies.
Muller, of the Green Party, filed a police complaint alleging that the woman had violated his privacy and defamed him. In the complaint he said that correspondence from her cellphone, which police have confiscated as evidence, contains correspondence with a “Mr. Bollag.”
In his Op-Ed, Bollag said the woman contacted him “as a cry for help” and that he was shocked by the photos but did not pass them on.
Police investigating the case asked the woman about her relationship with Bollag and Sacha Wigdorovits, a Jewish public relations professional who, together with Bollag, runs the pro-Israel media watchdog Audiatur, the Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported.
Wigdorovits acknowledged being in contact with the woman but denied sending any photos.
Muller, who is also a lawmaker in Switzerland’s federal parliament, has hosted several Hamas officials. During a demonstration for Gaza in 2010, he said, “The Holocaust is terrible, but that does not entitle any party to do the same with a different population,” though he later denied this constituted equating Israel with Nazism.
He has also said that Iran was a democracy.