WASHINGTON (Jun. 10)
The Departments of State and Justice are engaging in an increasingly public dispute over the extent of Israeli espionage activities in the United States.
State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said Tuesday that his agency was standing by a statement delivered Monday in the name of “all elements of the Administration,” asserting that Israel has cooperated in the Pollard investigation and that the U.S. has no evidence that Pollard was part of an extensive Israeli spying operation.
But Justice Department spokesman Patrick Korten denied Monday that Attorney General Edwin Meese had approved the statement, maintaining that his agency would never comment on the details of an ongoing investigation.
At the same time, officials were said to be standing by their off-the-record suggestions that there was evidence of a wider operation authorized by the Israeli government.
CLAIM ‘SELECTIVE COOPERATION’
The statement by the State Department came in apparent response to Israeli anger over assertions in the press by unnamed Justice Department officials that the espionage activities of Jonathan Jay Pollard, who pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to sell state secrets to Israel, was more than the “rogue” operation which the Israeli government has claimed it to be.
In addition, William Webster, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was quoted last week as accusing Israel of “selective cooperation” in the investigation of the Pollard case.
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on Sunday accused elements in the Reagan Administration of attempting to “foul up the atmosphere” with suggestions that Israel has engaged in extensive spying here.
‘NO EVIDENCE OF ESPIONAGE RING’
Kalb said Monday that the U.S. “has no evidence of any espionage ring involving Israeli officials other than the ones described in the indictment” of Pollard and his wife, Anne-Henderson Pollard, who was charged as an accessory.
The indictment issued last week named four Israelis as unindicted co-conspirators. One of them, Rafi Eitan, had headed a unit for the gathering of scientific information through which he directed the acquisition of secrets from Pollard.
Following Pollard’s arrest the roles of Eitan and of Yoseph Yagur, an Israeli science attache at the Consulate in New York, became known and Justice Department officials investigating the case were permitted to meet with them in Israel.
The unit headed by Eitan was declared by the Israeli government to have been eliminated and Secretary of State George Shultz said that Israel had provided its full cooperation investigation of the affair.
In his statement Monday, Kalb also commended Israel for assurances that it was not engaging in any spying activity against his country and for its renewed pledge to cooperate fully with the investigation.
“We also wish to note that the indictment and successful prosecution was made possible through the cooperation of the government of Israel,” Kalb said. Asked about Webster’s comment, he maintained that “Israel has cooperated in accordance with the terms of its agreement with the Department of Justice,” and obliquely criticized both the Justice Department Leakers and Webster for their remarks in the press.
“The U.S. position, as I have just set it forth, reflects the view of all elements of the Administration,” Kalb said, adding that “quotes from unidentified sources are entitled to no weight and these and other uninformed statements do not represent the Administration’s views.”