An employee of Israel's Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona who connected a personal USB flash drive to his work computer 14 times will be fired immediately, a Civil Service Commission tribunal ruled.
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The veteran nuclear research center employee, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry, is said to have copied academic articles to a computer used for highly classified information. According to the court, the researcher uploaded the articles to his work colleague's computer, hooked up the flash drive to it, transferred the files to his work computer and then connected the device to his home PC.
"The severity of his actions must not be underestimated," the disciplinary court judges wrote in their ruling last month. In addition to the employee's immediate termination, he was harshly reprimanded and banned from working as a civil servant for 10 months.
The judges further wrote that the employee's actions undermined the basic norms that apply to any defense establishment employee working with classified information. "The leaking of the most highly classified information to foreign and hostile groups is liable to pose a serious threat to national security," the judges wrote, "and to harm sensitive defense, or even political, interests."
The judges also went on to say that, considering the severity of the employee's actions, they had no choice but to terminate his employment at the center. "Only this disciplinary measure will fulfill the preventive and deterrent purpose of the disciplinary court," they wrote.
The state has, however, agreed not to object should the employee ask to be reinstated at the nuclear research center following his 10-month ban.
The claim against the employee was filed last October, with the state saying he was well aware that such actions are prohibited. He appealed the judges' decision in a Jerusalem court, which refused to delay the implementation of his punishment.