WASHINGTON (Dec. 10)
FBI Director William Webster said today that the United States government’s main interest in the case of Jonathan Pollard, the Naval civilian counterintelligence expert charged with selling classified information to Israel, is in prosecuting an American citizen who violated the law.
“We do not sanction, we do not condone, we do not knowingly permit friendly countries to operate agents in this country,” Webster said in reply to a question following his luncheon address to the National Press Club. “When we find out about it, we stop it.”
Webster said the Pollard case was “a little different matter, however, than someone who is trying to destroy this country. It does not excuse the conduct of the American citizen who violates the law and betrays his trust and we will prosecute them.” Noting that the FBI concentrates its limited personnel on Soviet bloc countries, Webster said it would be “a waste of resources” to have agents monitor friendly countries “who occasionally become over zealous. We would rather work in diplomatic channels and get them to pull in … and in many cases this works.”
As Webster was speaking, an FBI agent was part of a Justice and State Department team enroute to Israel to interview Israelis implicated in the Pollard case. The group led by the State Department’s legal advisor, Abraham Sofaer, was scheduled to arrive in Israel tomorrow.
At the State Department today, Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman said the Sofaer group will look into “all aspects” of the Pollard case. He noted that Secretary of State George Shultz said yesterday that there are no other cases of Israeli espionage in the U.S. “that we know of.”
Meanwhile, Webster said that the recent attacks against the offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Boston, Los Angeles and Washington appeared not to be aimed at Arab-Americans in general but at “enemies of Israel,” including “neo-Nazis.”
Nothing that he had to choose his words carefully, Webster said, “I think I can safely say that Arab individuals or those supportive of Arab points of view have come within the zone of danger of targeting by the group, as yet to be fully identified and brought to justice.”
Webster noted that “one organization’s name appears in telephone calls and other claims. The organization itself emphatically denies participation although sympathizing with the activity and it has been repudiated by every reputable Jewish organization in the country.” He did not name the group. He said that the FBI was conducting a full-scale national investigation and is “making significant progress.”