Middle East

U.S. suspects Israel hid extent of spying: ex-envoy

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The United States refuses to release an American who spied for Israel because it suspects the Jewish state concealed the existence of other spies, a former Israeli envoy to Washington said on Monday.

Speaking to Israeli public radio, former ambassador Itamar Rabinovich said Washington never believed that Jonathan Pollard -- an American who is serving time for passing secret U.S. documents to the Jewish state -- acted alone.

"The Americans suspect that Jonathan Pollard was not alone, that there were other Pollards and that Israel, despite all its promises, did not reveal all its cards," he said.

"They (punished) Israel on the back of Pollard and expressed their anger more with Israel than with Pollard," he added.

Asked about the possible existence of other Israeli spies in the United States, Rabinovich would say only: "I fear so."

And asked if Israel had come completely clean about details of the Pollard affair, he said: "To my knowledge, Israel hasn't said everything."

Pollard, a former navy analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for having passed classified U.S. defense documents to Israel between May 1984 and November 1985 when he was arrested.

He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and three years later, he was officially recognized as an agent working for the Jewish state, which promptly launched a bid to bring him to Israel.

This week, nearly 70,000 Israelis, including prominent intellectuals, signed a petition calling on Israeli President Shimon Peres to use a trip to the United States this week to pressure President Barack Obama for Pollard's release.

Many Israelis feel that Pollard's sentence was too harsh given that he was providing information to a "friendly" nation.





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