Wednesday, 21 October 2009

U.S. Scientist Accused of Spying for Israel

Written by  Steven J. Dubord

Former NASA scientist Stewart Nozette has been charged with attempting to sell classified information about U.S. military satellites to Israel.

The FBI conducted a sting operation in which an agent posed as an operative with Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad. Nozette was arrested after he offered to trade secrets for cash and an Israeli passport. His high-level security clearance had enabled him to obtain classified information from NASA, the Pentagon, and the energy department laboratory where he worked on a radar system that detected ice on the moon.

The indictment indicates that Nozette was paid a large sum of money to serve as a consultant to a defense firm owned by the government of Israel. He was remunerated for “answering questions from the company,” and allegedly told one of his colleagues that he had committed a crime and was prepared to flee to Israel, where he would reveal all of his knowledge.

As part of the sting, the FBI gave Nozette two envelopes holding a total of $11,000 in cash and some requests for classified information. Nozette answered the requests with data about U.S. satellite, early warning, and attack response systems. Nozette was also given a cellphone for exchanging text messages with the Bureau’s undercover agent.

Federal investigators have not given specifics about how Nozette came to their attention, but court documents show that the defense firm he worked for was Israel Aerospace Industries. Nozette was with them as a technical consultant for more than 10 years, receiving $225,000 in exchange for the secrets he passed along.

Channing Phillips, the U.S. prosecutor on the case, declared, “Those who would put our nation’s defense secrets up for sale can expect to be vigorously prosecuted.” Unfortunately, this is not the first time that spies for Israel have had to be “vigorously prosecuted.”

Former Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel and given a life sentence in 1985. After this, Israel claimed that it had no more spies in the United States, but in 2006, Lawrence Franklin, a former Defense Department official, pleaded guilty to giving data about Iran to the pro-Israeli lobby group known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Former Army engineer Ben-ami Kadish was convicted in 2008 of spying for Israel during a span of 20 years stretching all the way back to Pollard’s time. As the Guardian reported on October 20, “The same Israeli agent, Yosef Yagur, handled both men.”

The Guardian further noted that the Nozette case “is potentially a further embarrassment for Israel at a time of unusually strained relations with the U.S.” It also goes to show that, when friendly nations act like this, who needs enemies?

Photo: NASA

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