U.S. listened in on Israel Embassy, FBI translator revealed


WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Israeli-American FBI translator jailed for 20 months leaked transcripts of U.S. eavesdropping on Israel’s Washington embassy.

Shamai Leibowitz, who was sentenced in May 2010 for leaking information he obtained as an FBI translator, sent classified documents to Richard Silverstein, who runs the Tikun Olam blog, Silverstein told The New York Times in a story Tuesday. The nature of the information has never been revealed.

Silverstein said he and Leibowitz shared a concern about Israel-led efforts to persuade the U.S. government to sanction an airstrike on Iran. Leibowitz, who is now in a halfway house in Maryland, would not comment on the story or his motives.

Silverstein told the Times that he burned the documents in mid-2009 once Leibowitz came under investigation and that he removed the relevant blog posts.

The Washington Post revealed in an investigative series in the late 1990s that the United States routinely eavesdrops on conversations in the Israeli Embassy, as well as others.

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