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6 Mar, 2013

Watching the Watchers: Israeli Espionage in U.S.


WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 05, 2013 – On March 21, 2012 U.S. prosecutors played FBI surveillance video in court of former NASA employee Stewart Nozette agreeing to sell U.S. government secrets to Israel. Nozette was then sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The FBI surveillance video, obtained by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) under the Freedom of Information Act, is now available on YouTube and Vimeo. An imperfect redaction reveals Nozette appearing to say he sold classified U.S. government information to “Israeli Aircraft,” also known as Israel Aerospace Industries and IAI.

In 2007 the FBI obtained a sealed warrant to search Nozette’s home. They discovered a huge cache of classified U.S. government files unlawfully stored on Nozette’s computer. One document named “Proposed Activities for 2005-6” ominously contained a section titled “Penetration of NASA” on behalf of a foreign client. The FBI soon discovered that between 1998 and 2008 a nonprofit run by Nozette received $225,000 in “consulting fees” from Israel Aerospace Industries. IAI tasked Nozette to obtain “technical data” beginning in November of 1998. Nozette complied with IAI’s requests in exchange for “regular payments” according to criminal complaints filed in court.

In the 1950s the state-owned IAI was established and led by Adolph “Al” Schwimmer, an American felon convicted for serially violating U.S. arms export controls. Schwimmer fraudulently obtained heavily discounted surplus U.S. aircraft from the War Assets Administration. In the 1960s IAI obtained stolen French Mirage 5 jet fighter plans in order to build its own copycat Kfir jet fighter.

In the 1980s IAI relied on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to win U.S. funding for the development of the troubled Lavi jet fighter. The Lavi program was terminated in 1987 after questionable Israeli technology transfers to China. The U.S. has paid for half of the jointly developed IAI/Boeing Arrow Anti-Missile system since 1988. Since 2007 the AIPAC has lobbied for hundreds of millions in additional U.S. taxpayer funding for the new Arrow III, beyond the $3 billion in military aid already provided to Israel annually. Today AIPAC DC convention attendees will lobby Congress against cutting under sequestration any funding to IAI or other aid to Israel.

On May 4, 2012 US Attorney Ron Machen was confronted on WAMU radio (YouTube) for officially stating no classified information was passed by Nozette to Israel. This was contradicted by court filings and now surveillance video. Machen could not credibly explain why the Justice Department limited its criminal investigation to only Nozette.


Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep)
Media Contact: Grant F. Smith, 202-342-7325