Israel spies on US at alarming level: Report
Jerusalem: Israel spied on the US at an "alarming" level and these "unrivalled" espionage activities went beyond those of other close allies, a media report has claimed.
An article in the Newsweek yesterday claimed that Israel spies on the US under the cover of trade missions or as part of joint defence technology agreements.
The article quoted confidential briefings by American intelligence officials to the Congress in which they said that Israeli espionage operations in the US have "gone too far".
It claimed that American counter-intelligence officials reportedly told members of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees at the end of January that Israel`s espionage activities in America are "unrivalled and unseemly," going far beyond the activities of other close allies, such as Germany, France, the UK and Japan.
Their briefing was "very alarming, even terrifying", a congressional staffer familiar with the details of the issue was quoted as saying.
"Israel has crossed red lines," Newsweek quoted the intelligence officials as saying.
Reacting angrily to the report, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today rejected as "malicious and false" the allegations that his country spied on its close ally, the US.
"The report is made up. We categorically reject such an accusation," he told the Army Radio.
Lieberman ruled out the possibility that Israel is involved, either directly or indirectly, in espionage against the US.
He said he could not speculate as to who is behind the claims.
The Minister denied allegations in the Newsweek article that quoted intelligence officials as saying that Israel`s massive spying is connected to its so-far futile attempts to join the US visa waiver programme.
The intelligence assessments were reportedly given in confidential briefings to a number of congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation that would lower visa restrictions on Israeli citizens wishing to enter the US.
Lieberman said Israel has been discussing its inclusion in the visa wavier programme in the past year and that the discussions were "good and constructive".
The Newsweek article caused anger in Jerusalem and the spokesman of Israeli embassy in Washington, Aharon Sagi, protested at the report saying it was "false".
"Israel doesn`t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period," he said adding, "We condemn the fact that such outrageous false allegations are being directed against Israel."
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