THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Israeli says US denies him entry

Netanyahu aide cites spy issue

By Aron Heller
Associated Press / March 19, 2009
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JERUSALEM - Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's choice for national security adviser said yesterday that he has been denied an entry visa to the United States for the past two years because US authorities linked him to a Pentagon spy case.

Israeli officials refused to publicly discuss the case of Uzi Arad, a former Mossad intelligence officer and close Netanyahu aide. A US State Department official said visa records are confidential under American law and cannot be discussed.

Arad said American officials erroneously tied him to Lawrence A. Franklin, a former Defense Department official who pleaded guilty to providing classified defense information to two pro-Israel lobbyists. Franklin was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

The two former lobbyists for American Israel Public Affairs Committee - Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman - have been charged with illegally disclosing sensitive national defense information to people who are not entitled to receive it.

The 2005 indictment against Franklin, publicly available on the Internet, refers to a meeting he held at the Pentagon cafeteria with "a person previously associated with an intelligence agency of Foreign Nation A and discussed a Middle Eastern country's nuclear program."

Arad confirmed he was indeed that person and had discussed Iran with Franklin, but insisted the 2004 meeting was "superficial" and had nothing to do with the charges against the Pentagon spy.

"We had coffee and we talked about the agenda of the day - nothing classified, nothing secret, nothing related to espionage," Arad told The Associated Press yesterday. "If I was not a Mossad employee in the past, they would not have noticed me. My sin was that I was in the past in the Mossad. It's not a big deal, and I believe that this issue will be resolved."

Arad confirmed that two years ago, he applied for a visa and but was denied, under section 212-3 (A) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which bars entry for those suspected of intent to engage in espionage or sabotage. Arad said he has not applied for a visa since.

"With regard to visa records, they are confidential under US law, so I am not able to discuss any particular case," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said yeterday.

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