The arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish, accused of passing US military secrets to the same handler as convicted spy Jonathan Pollard , confirms that the espionage ring was larger than previously believed and that the Israelis lied about it, a former US prosecutor says.
"The similarities are quite eerie," said Joseph E. DiGenova, the US attorney who oversaw the 1980s-era Pentagon spy scandal that ensnared Pollard. "This was a much larger espionage operation with sleeper cells in the United States than we understood or could have known at the time," DiGenova said.
Citing court papers, DiGenova said Pollard's handler, Yosef Yagur, used the same methods with Kadish that he did with Pollard, finding a US Citizen with security clearance to take classified materials from the workplace and letting him copy them.
DiGenova said he and other investigators in the 1980s were convinced there were other Americans involved in the espionage. "It was obvious they had other people supplying the information so they could target the finds," he said. "You want to protect your ultimate source."
25 years later
Charles S. Leeper, a former assistant US attorney who was the lead trial attorney in the Pollard case, called the Kadish case fascinating. "I am not aware of any other case where the government has brought espionage charges more than 25 years after the conduct in question," he said.
DiGenova said the charges can be brought so long after the fact because the case can be viewed as a continuing conspiracy based on communications between Yagur and Kadish. "He was an agent in place then, and he's an agent in place now," he said.
Earlier, IsraeliForeign Ministry spokesman Aryeh Mekel said the events in question dated back to the early 1980s, and that since then there has been much care taken to observe the directives of the prime ministers not to engage in any activities of this type in the US.
Kadish, a US Army veteran, was arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy. He was released on $300,000 bail, but could face a possible death sentence on the charge.