Trump doesn’t believe Israel spied on him but adds ‘anything’s possible’

Yolanda Curtis
September 13, 2019

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as "StingRays", mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information.

Israel is days away from a general election, with Mr Netanyahu fighting to hold on to his office.

A Politico article published earlier on Thursday alleged there was a massive Israeli intelligence operation in the U.S. that used surveillance devices known as "StingRays" to intercept cellphone communications.

"No, I don't believe that the Israelis are spying on us", Trump said on Thursday evening from the South Lawn, before heading to a GOP retreat in Baltimore.

Based on his reaction to similar denials by people like Russian president Vladimir Putin, President Trump no doubt believes - or chooses to believe - that Netanyahu is telling the truth. He said Israel does not conduct spy operations in the U.S.

Israel's foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, also denied the report, saying, "Israel does not manage any espionage operations in the United States".

According to the report, the White House refused to comment on the allegations.

"It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible", one USA official told the news outlet on condition of anonymity.

"The devices were likely meant to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates - though it's not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful", Politico wrote.

"The U.S. and Israel share a lot of intelligence information and work together to prevent threats and strengthen the security of both countries", he said.

Suspicious activity near cellphone towers in Washington was first reported in 2017, raising concerns that government officials could be the targets of espionage by a foreign entity.

"I have a directive: no intelligence connection in the United States, no spying", he said. "I find it very hard to believe that this policy has changed", he said.

The report quoted three unnamed former senior United States officials "with knowledge of the matter".

Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested on November 21, 1985 and sentenced two years later to life imprisonment for handing over a large amount of classified U.S. government information to Israel.

However, unconfirmed accounts over the years suggest that Pollard was never recruited as a spy, but rather volunteered for the work after being introduced to an Israeli military officer in NY in 1984.

The belief is that while he worked at the Naval Intelligence Center for Counter Terrorism in Maryland, Pollard handed files to the Israelis, including documents relating to Arab troops, the Palestine Liberation Organization and chemical and biological warfare programs conducted by Iraq, Libya and Syria.

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