NEW YORK – The federal government indicted on Tuesday, April 22, an American engineer in the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey for disclosing classified defense information, including on nuclear weapons, to Israel.
"We have been cooperating fully with federal investigators and will continue to do so," Peter Rowland, a Picatinny spokesman, said in a statement cited by ABC news.
Ben-Ami Kadish, who worked as a mechanical engineer at the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at the Picatinny Arsenal, spied for Israel from 1979-1985.
He provided the consul for science affairs at the Israeli Consulate General in New York, identified in the indictment as "CC-1," with US national defense information, including restricted nuclear weapons data.
Kadish took 50 to 100 classified documents from the arsenal’s library, working from a list provided by the handler, who would then photograph the documents in Kadish’s basement.
One of the classified documents passed on by Kadish contained information concerning nuclear weaponry and another related to a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet that the US had sold to another foreign country.
A third document contained information regarding the US Patriot missile air defense system.
Kadish, 84, acknowledged his spying in FBI interviews and said he acted out of a belief that he was helping Israel, court papers said.
He did not appear to receive any money in exchange for his suspected spying, just small gifts and restaurant meals.
Kadish was arrested in New Jersey and was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday afternoon at US District Court in New York City.
On its website, the Picatinny Arsenal bills itself as the "Home of American Firepower" and "of-a-kind facility that provides virtually all of the lethal mechanisms used in Army weapon systems and those of the other military services."
Kadish’s Israeli government handler is the same man who handled Jonathan Pollard, an American serving a life term on a 1985 charge of spying for Israel.
Haaretz on Tuesday identified the handler as Yosef Yagur.
Pollard and his wife pleaded guilty in 1986 to charges of passing information to Israel.
According to the FBI, Pollard had provided Israel with about 800 classified documents and more than 1000 cables while he was working as an analyst at the Navy’s Anti-Terrorist Alert Center.
Haaretz on Tuesday identified the Pollard handler as Yosef Yagur.
Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1996 and acknowledged in 1998 that the former US Navy intelligence analyst was one of its spies.
It has unsuccessfully sought Pollard’s release.
After Pollard was exposed, his handler left the US and Kadish went underground.
He maintained contact with CC-1, met him in Israel in 2004, and spoke with him by phone on March 20 of this year, after his first FBI interview.
The Israeli handler has told him to lie to US authorities.
The arrest is a sign the Pollard scandal, which remains an irritant in the close US alliance with Israel, may have spread wider than was previously acknowledged.
The Pollard affair revealed that the Defense Ministry operated a secret unit, the Science Liaison Bureau, which for years conducted intelligence and equipment-gathering missions for the nuclear reactor in Dimona and served as a sort of "theft contractor" for the Israeli security industry, Haaretz said.
Lakam appointed a number of scientific attaches in Israeli embassies in the US and Europe, who served as the contacts in charge of missions of this type.
Rafi Eitan, a former senior official in the Mossad and a currently serving cabinet minister, was the head of Lakam.
"We will be informing the Israelis of this action," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.
"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."