x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ex-US army man pleads guilty to spying for Israel

An elderly US engineer admits to providing classified documents about missile systems to Israel during the 1980s.

NEW YORK // An elderly US citizen has pleaded guilty to spying for Israel by leaking documents about missile systems when he was an army engineer during the 1980s. Ben-Ami Kadish, 85, pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent for Israel at a federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. He admitted that for about five years until 1985, he provided classified documents to Yosef Yagur, a science adviser at the Israeli consulate in New York.

It was the first time that federal authorities named Mr Yagur, who also received information in the 1980s from Jonathan Pollard, a former US naval analyst, who is serving a life sentence for leaking documents to Israel. Israel, which has bombarded Gaza with air strikes since Saturday, has not commented on the Kadish case although it regularly presses Washington for Pollard's release. Mr Yagur returned to Israel after Pollard's arrest and has never been back to the United States.

Kadish was arrested and charged in April. Court papers then referred to "co-conspirator 1" - Mr Yagur - and gave details of a phone conversation he had in March in which he told Kadish to lie to FBI investigators. Kadish worked as a mechanical engineer at an army research centre, and Mr Yagur would photograph the stolen documents at Kadish's New Jersey home. Sentencing was set for Feb 13. Kadish faces a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of US$250,000 (Dh918,000), but he might escape jail time in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

US officials said they only became aware of Kadish's activities in the months before his arrest. Newsweek magazine said this year that the investigation was triggered by ongoing "super-secret intelligence monitoring" related to the Pollard affair. Conspiracy theorists say a "third man" worked for Israel deep inside the US government, but this has never been proven. After Kadish was arrested, a state department spokesman said: "You know, 20-plus years ago during the Pollard case, we noted that this was not the kind of behaviour we would expect from friends and allies and that would remain the case today."

In another case, the trial of two former senior analysts for Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has been much delayed. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman are charged with passing on information about Iran and Iraq they discovered from high-level US policymakers. sdevi@thenational.ae