Israel reacts angrily to claims it spies on the United States

Embassy of Israel in Washington, DCBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The government of Israel has reacted angrily to claims in the press that its spies are aggressively trying to steal American secrets. Tel Aviv instructed its embassy in Washington, DC, to “strongly protest” allegations, made by American newsmagazine Newsweek on Tuesday, that Israel’s spies “have gone too far” in targeting American interests. In an article published in Newsweek Tuesday, veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein quoted Congressional staffers as saying that America’s Jewish allies had “crossed red lines” in their efforts to steal secrets from the United States. That was reportedly relayed to US lawmakers in classified briefings on Capitol Hill by officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, as well as the National Counterintelligence Directorate. At the closed-door briefings, members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees were told that Israel’s espionage operations against US interests were both “unrivaled and unseemly” and had reached levels far higher than similar activities by other allied countries, such as Britain or Japan. One Congressional staffer told Stein that “no other country continues to cross the line on espionage like the Israelis do”. Another staffer, who was present during one of the classified briefings, described the information given to lawmakers as “very sobering […], alarming, even terrifying”. The Newsweek article reported that Tel Aviv’s main intelligence goal in America is to acquire inside information on US technical projects and industrial secrets. It added that this is done through Israel’s trade missions or through Israeli companies that work in collaboration with American firms. In other cases, Israeli intelligence operatives work directly out of the Israeli embassy in Washington. However, Aaron Sagui, a spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington, reacted angrily to Newsweek’s revelations, condemning what he called “outrageous, false allegations [that] are being directed against Israel”. He added that “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period”. But there is little doubt that the intelligence relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv has seen better days. Last March, intelNews reported on allegations made in the Israeli media that the United States was quietly instituting a policy of denying entry visa requests from members of Israel’s security and intelligence agencies. One Israeli newspaper alleged that the preceding 12 months had seen “hundreds of cases” of employees in the Israeli intelligence community who had been told by US consular officials that they could not step foot on US soil.

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