Israel reveals long-awaited Levinson spy case details

As part of a move by Israeli intelligence agencies to adhere to elementary provisions of Israel’s declassification laws, Shin Bet has for the first time published details about the Shimon Levinson spy case. Levinson was a senior agent in Shin Bet (domestic intelligence) and the Mossad (external intelligence), who in 1991 was jailed for 12 years for spying on Israel on behalf of the Soviet KGB. Levinson’s career culminated with his appointment as head of the Mossad station in Ethiopia. This happened shortly before he voluntarily retired in1978, in frustration over an awaited promotion that failed to materialize. According to Shin Bet, it was Levinson’s business failures and financial instability, not ideology, that led him to contact the KGB and “offer his services to the Soviet Union” shortly after his retirement. Eventually the Soviets flew Levinson to the USSR, where he was trained in Soviet espionage techniques before being sent back to Israel. Once there, he applied for re-entry to Shin Bet and, remarkably, was hired as chief security officer to the Israeli prime minister’s office. It was in that capacity that he supplied the Soviets with extremely valuable military and administrative information. Interestingly, Shin Bet files point out that Levinson’s eventual arrest resulted from “information that reached the Mossad from a foreign source”. Levinson was released in 1998, having served seven years of his 12-year sentence; he eventually relocated to Thailand, where he still works today as an independent consultant.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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