FBI Seeks to Probe Senior Israeli Diplomat in Pentagon Spy Case

Aluf Benn - Haaretz - July 28, 2005/Tamuz 21, 5765

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is demanding that Naor Gilon, head of the political department at the Israeli embassy in Washington, be interrogated in connection to the Pentagon spy case.

It is possible the FBI will also want to interrogate other Israeli diplomats in connection with Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin, an Iran expert under investigation for allegedly passing classified documents to Israel via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The American request was discussed a few weeks ago at an interministerial meeting in Jerusalem. The consensus was that neither Gilon nor other officials should be allowed to undergo investigation by the FBI but that Israel would be prepared to respond in writing to questions.

According to accepted practice, Israeli civil servants have immunity and cannot be investigated by foreign countries about actions taken in their work capacity, and it appears that Israel would like this immunity applied in the current affair.

The demand to investigate Gilon's role and possibly also that of other Israeli representatives is the clearest indication that the Americans believe Israel is involved in the Franklin case, which until now has been presented as an internal American affair.

It is also another stumbling block in the ties between Israel and the United States, which have grown less close since President George W. Bush was elected for a second term. The Franklin affair comes on the heels of a crisis between the two countries over Israeli sales of arms to China.

According to a report on Channel 10 Wednesday night, FBI agents are planning to come to Israel shortly to deal with the case.

Israeli sources confirmed that there had been developments with regard to the Franklin-AIPAC case but said that no federal agents had yet arrived here. They said the issue is being dealt with by the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, Ehud Keinan, in conjunction with the Justice Ministry.

  • See Also: The Franklin/AIPAC Spy Case Page