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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sailor spied for Russia - not Israel

Yesterday, I carried a JPost story that cited a report from Saudi daily Al-Watan claiming that an American sailor had been accused of spying for Israel. The Post seemed to be treating the story with skepticism, and because of that I advised reserving judgment. With good reason, as it turns out. This is from CNN.com.
Ariel Weinmann, 21, is suspected of having worked on behalf of Russia, said military sources close to the case.

He was likely to have had access to technical manuals and other material on submarine systems, Navy sources said. No one else in the Navy is suspected of having worked with Weinmann, they said.

The fire control technician third class, assigned to the submarine USS Albuquerque, attempted on three occasions to pass classified information to foreign agents, the charges against him state.
The Jerusalem Post adds:

"I can tell you definitively that is not true," the Navy official said in a phone interview with the Post on Tuesday. "This is not a case of an individual spying for Israel...The Al-Watan report is erroneous," he continued.

The official said he had no idea where the Saudi paper got their information from, and that his sources at the Pentagon also knew that Weinmann, suspected of spying, was not a spy for Israel.

And finally, this tidbit from Time Magazine:

The Navy's preliminary charges allege that while on a port call at Bahrain with the submarine — and later in Vienna and Mexico City after he deserted — Ariel Weinmann passed confidential and secret information "relating to the national defense" to a foreign agent. Since his case first became public last week, Internet blogs have speculated that Israel was receiving the classified information. Robert Weinmann says his son is not Jewish (the family's heritage is German), and Navy sources also say Israel is not the alleged recipient.



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