The Foreign Ministry said today it has launched a thorough investigation into allegations that a civilian employe of the U.S. Navy had provided secret defense documents to Israel.
The suspect, Jonathan Pollard, 31, of Washington was arrested by the FBI last Thursday near the Israel Embassy. He was a counterintelligence analyst for the Naval Investigative Service. His wife, Anne Henderson-Pollard, 25, was arrested Friday.
The Foreign Ministry statement stressed that it is not the policy of Israel to spy in the U.S. The policy is to refrain from any intelligence action against the U.S. because of the traditional and special friendly relations between the two countries, the statement said. It added that if the investiagation showed there was a deviation from this policy, the necessary conclusions would be drawn.
A similarly worded message was sent by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir to Secretary of State George Shultz today. The statement was made public after a meeting attended by Premier Shimon Peres. Shamir and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin. All said they had no knowledge whatever of the affair.
COMMUNIQUE FALLS SHORT OF DENIAL
But is was noted by observers that the official communique, while reflecting shock and consternation, fell short of an outright denial. This, according to the observers was evidence of confusion within the government. If indeed Pollard spied for Israel, the political leadership was not aware of it. The investigation is aimed at finding out who was responsible.
There has long been a tacit understanding between the U.S. and Israel not to engage in mutual espionage. It was underscored in the 1981 strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries which precludes espionage activities of any kind. The agreement actually grants Israel a wide range of information under an intelligence sharing clause which adds to the mystery of who enlisted Pollard to spy for Israel, if in fact he did.
After his arrest, Pollard admitted having “a large amount of money,” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Benner. Benner said this was payment for secret documents Pollard allegedly turned over to a foreign country. The country was not named. Allegedly, it was Israel.
The fact that Pollard was picked up near the Israel Embassy raised speculation that he had gone there to seek asylum but was turned away. Embassy officials would not confirm this. They denied any knowledge of Pollard and his activities.
HEARING SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY
U.S. Magistrate Patrick Attridge ordered Pollard held without bail because there were indications he might try “to leave the country.” Attridge scheduled a hearing for Wednesday. Pollard’s wife was also charged with gathering and delivering national defense information.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said Friday that the U.S. was investingating the “circum stances” concerning Pollard’s presence at the Israel Embassy. He said, “We are shocked and saddened at the notion that something like this might occur. We have been in touch with the Israelis to try to get to the bottom of this. We don’t have all the facts.”