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An American who worked for the Army years ago, and who's now in his 80s has been charged with giving Israel classified documents about nuclear weapons. The Justice Department alleges that Ben-ami Kadish worked with a handler for the Israeli government more than two decades ago. U.S. officials say Kadish admitted spying for Israel for ideological reasons. As NPR's Jackie Northam reports.
JACKIE NORTHAM: In the late 1970s and mid-'80s Ben-ami Kadish was an army mechanical engineer based at a military research and development center in Dover, New Jersey. According to the Justice Department during that time, Kadish removed secret documents about America's nuclear weapons, fighter planes, and missile defense systems and took them to his home. There, an Israeli government handler identified only as CC1 would photograph the documents, and Kadish would take them back to the Army base. At the same time, CC1 was also receiving classified information from Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. Naval intelligence officer who's now serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. Joseph diGenova was the chief prosecutor in the Pollard case. He sees many of the same hallmarks in the Kadish case.
Mr. JOSEPH DIGENOVA (Prosecutor): They used exactly the same modus operandi. They found someone who was committed to their cause. He had unfettered access to the most sensitive classified libraries at a military installation, where amazing amounts of weapons development go on. And he was easily able to get information.
NORTHAM: The Justice Department says this went on for more than five years, but when the Pollard case was uncovered in 1985, CC1, the Israeli handler, fled the U.S. and so did not receive anymore documents from Kadish. But U.S. officials say the two men kept in contact, even as recently as March this year. DiGenova says they're conversation was most likely picked up by telephone intercept. Kadish was arrested. He told FBI agents that he handed over anywhere from 50 to 100 documents. DiGenova says now U.S. authorities have to determine what information was handed over.
Mr. DIGENOVA: What they'll do now is they will go back and they will do a complete damage assessment and it's going to take a long time. They will interview former employees, former supervisors, they'll go through records at the library.
NORTHAM: DiGenova says his prosecution team always assumed the spy network went beyond just Pollard. The link between the two cases raises old questions, including why would an ally, such as Israel, spy on the U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey did not answer that question, but did say this.
Mr. TOM CASEY (U.S. State Department Spokesman): Twenty plus years ago during the Pollard case we noted that this was not the kind of behavior we would expect from friends and allies and that would remain the case today.
NORTHAM: The Israeli Embassy in Washington would only say it had been formally advised about the Kadish arrest. Kadish faces the death penalty for one of the charges, handing over secret information about U.S. nuclear weapons.
Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.
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