JERUSALEM — Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said today that no one has spied for Israel in the United States since the 1985 arrest of convicted spy Jonathan Jay Pollard.
Local media reports, meanwhile, said Israel has paid $80,000 toward Pollard's legal expenses. The former U.S. Navy analyst was sentenced this month by a Washington court to life in prison for selling U.S. military secrets to Israel.
Israel radio said the money was transferred to Pollard's attorney, James Hibey, through "indirect channels." It did not elaborate.
The daily independent tabloid Yediot Ahronot said Israel provided the money "because of its moral commitment toward Pollard, although it continues to stress the spy operation was carried out in opposition to the rules and without the knowledge of the political echelon."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Ehud Gol, asked about the report, replied: "We know nothing about it."
Israel has said Pollard, 32, was part of a "rogue" spy operation set up by lower-level Defense Ministry officials without government authority.
Rabin said that the operation has been dismantled and that since then "Israel has not carried out any espionage activities in the United States."
"Let me make it clear. . . . There are no Americans or non-Americans that serve as spies for Israel against the United States," he said in a speech to American fund-raisers at Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus.
However, Rabin was less emphatic in rejecting reports that the unit that recruited Pollard also used other Americans.
No Others Known
"I believe it's not true. So far, no one can present any proof . . . that there are others" involved in the spy operation, Rabin said.
He was responding to a Washington Post report Sunday that U.S. investigators feared other Americans had been spying for Israel. The newspaper quoted U.S. Atty. Joseph E. DiGenova as saying the issue was raised during interrogation of Pollard.
Rabin also said an unidentified U.S. prosecutor approached attorneys defending Israeli Col. Aviem Sella, who allegedly acted as Pollard's contact, to try to elicit the names of other Americans spying for Israel.
"A key figure in the prosecution of Pollard said, and I'm quoting, 'From my point of view, Sella can be the chief of the Israeli air force if you give me another name or names,' " Rabin said.
Earlier this month, the United States formally protested Sella's appointment as chief of one of Israel's most prestigious air bases at Tel Nof. Sella has been indicted by a U.S. grand jury.
Rabin criticized the United States for refusing to grant Sella immunity from prosecution if he was questioned by U.S. investigators, and implied that Sella could have cleared up unanswered questions.
Sella "even demanded to be questioned because he would like to present to the U.S. authorities his involvement in the case, once immunity would be granted," Rabin said.