Ronan Farrow Reveals How Black Cube Spies Tracked His Harvey Weinstein Investigation

Ronan Farrow - Power of Women 2018 - Getty - H 2018
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In an excerpt from his new book, 'Catch and Kill,' the journalist details how he was closely monitored while digging into Weinstein's past for stories that eventually helped kick off the #MeToo movement.

The New Yorker on Monday morning published an excerpt from Ronan Farrow's new book, Catch and Kill, in which the journalist details how Black Cube spies closely monitored him as he was working on his bombshell reports about sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, published in the fall of 2017. (Monday's post is the first installment of a three-part series rolling out this week on the New Yorker's website specifically about Farrow's interactions with the Black Cube operatives.)

In the book, Farrow explains that he was followed by one Russian man, Roman Khaykin, and one Ukrainian man, Igor Ostrovskiy. Farrow believes that the men were hired by Black Cube — an Israeli private investigation agency — to intimidate him and ultimately cease his pursuit of information about Weinstein's history of alleged rape and sexual abuse. (Weinstein has vehemently denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.)

"Hiring the agency was only a part of Weinstein’s larger effort to prevent the disclosure of the sexual-abuse claims. He also hired the private-investigation firm co-founded by Jack Palladino, who was best known for working to undermine women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct," Farrow writes.

"As a part of its work for Weinstein, Palladino’s firm created dossiers on both journalists and accusers. Under the guise of assembling research for a book about his company, Weinstein also hired some of his former employees to compile lists of targets and then contact the people on those lists," Farrow continues. "The lists included reporters at the New Yorker, the [New York] Times, and New York magazine; the actresses Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette, and Annabella Sciorra; and secondary sources who might be able to confirm those women’s stories."

Detailing the ways in which the men monitored him, Farrow says: "I wrote a series of pieces on Weinstein and his enablers in the fall of 2017. During the time that I was reporting the first of those stories, Khaykin and Ostrovskiy staked out my apartment building and tailed me to the offices of NBC, where I worked as a correspondent, and later to the offices of the New Yorker. At one point, Khaykin claimed to have successfully used my cell phone to track my location. (A source close to the Black Cube operation said that the agency was unaware of, and did not authorize, the cell-phone tracking.)"

Farrow also writes that Khaykin and Ostrovskiy would wait outside his New York apartment for hours on end, ready to trail him when he exited his building. "In the summer of 2017, as I was speaking to Weinstein’s accusers and colleagues, Ostrovskiy and Khaykin began meeting at dawn near my apartment building, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Some days, they would stay in Khaykin’s car, a silver Nissan Pathfinder. Other times, the two would use separate cars," Farrow says. "Khaykin would be ready to follow me if I left the building, and Ostrovskiy would keep an eye on my apartment. When separated, they stayed in touch by text."

Farrow also writes that the spies followed New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor — whose reporting on Weinstein with colleague Megan Twohey led to his downfall and subsequent arrest, along with Hollywood's sexual misconduct reckoning. (Kantor and Twohey recently released their own book about their Weinstein investigation called She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement.) According to Farrow, Khaykin and Ovstrovskiy, "on one occasion [took] photographs of [Kantor] as she commuted to work on the subway."

Farrow also says that the men ended up figuring out a way to track his phone, allowing them to survey his physical location at all times. "The information that Khaykin sent to Ostrovskiy was correct," Farrow says. "[One] day, I was at the World Trade Center for my first meeting with David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, to discuss the reporting on Weinstein that the magazine would eventually publish. I was on edge. In the preceding weeks, I’d begun to suspect that I was being followed. My building superintendent had told me that he’d seen men lurking outside. Sources had advised me to get a gun and move out of my apartment."

But Farrow eventually made contact with Ostrovskiy, whom he covertly met at a restaurant in the fall of 2017 after his first story about Weinstein was published for the New Yorker. Ostrovskiy, who described himself as a "concerned party" to Farrow, ended up giving him information about Black Cube's operations for Weinstein. Ostrovskiy technically worked for the investigative firm InfoTactic, licensed in New York and hired by Black Cube.

"Ostrovskiy told me that the more run-of-the-mill investigative work he did 'might not be ethical, but it’s legitimate,'" Farrow writes. "He said that he felt differently about the work for Black Cube. 'I fear that it may be illegal,' he told me. Ostrovskiy described the various efforts to track me, in person and through my phone. He said that he had objections to the tactics that had been used against me. And it wasn’t just me; although the Weinstein operation was over, Ostrovskiy was still following people for Black Cube, and he was hoping to learn why."

Read the entire first excerpt from Catch and Kill, out this October, here.