Likud man barred from US for spying

By Yaakov Katz, February 12, 2009

The United States is refusing to grant a visa to Professor Uzi Arad, a former top Mossad operative and a senior adviser to Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu.

Mr Arad resigned from the Mossad in 1997 after serving as director of the spy agency’s Intelligence Department.

He served as Mr Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser during the Likud leader’s first term as prime minister in the late 1990s and has been widely touted as a candidate to head the National Security Council if Likud forms the new government.

Mr Arad is accused of having contacts with Larry Franklin, a former employee of the US Pentagon who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for passing sensitive defence information to two officials from the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac).

“Since I left the Mossad I have not been engaged in any espionage activity anywhere in the world, including the United States,” Mr Arad told the JC. “There was no just cause in refusing to issue me a visa.”

Senior Israeli government officials have, Mr Arad said, intervened on his behalf with US authorities to obtain a visa for the former spymaster. Mr Arad regularly advises Mr Netanyahu and attends all of the Likud leader’s diplomatic meetings, including one recently with US Special Envoy George Mitchell.

He said that it was unlikely that the visa rejection would affect his chances of landing a senior position in Netanyahu’s staff if Likud forms the new government.

Mr Arad admitted to meeting Mr Franklin on two different occasions. The first was five years ago on the sidelines of the Herziliya Conference, which he chairs, in Israel.

The second meeting took place two years later when they sat down for a 45-minute coffee in the Pentagon cafeteria.

Mr Arad said that he held a series of meetings that day in the Pentagon and that Mr Franklin was just one of them.

“This doesn’t affect my work in Israel since the Americans don’t decide what I do,” Mr Arad said, adding that he was confident that the US would retract its decision and grant him a visa if he was appointed to a senior position in the new government.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said they were aware of Mr Arad’s situation and that the government was working to secure him a visa to the US.

Last updated: 6:07pm, February 12 2009