A German weekly's report on the arrest of an alleged Israeli Mossad agent in Poland thwarted an emerging deal for his release, Polish sources told Haaretz. As a result, both Israel and Poland suspect the story was leaked to Der Spiegel by German officials.
According to Der Spiegel, Germany issued an international arrest warrant for Uri Brodsky on suspicion that he was involved in fraudulently obtaining a German passport, which Mossad agents then allegedly used to assassinate senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.
Brodsky was arrested in Poland on June 4. One report claims he entered Poland with multiple passports.
The Polish government refuses to divulge any information about the arrest of Brodsky. Poland's ambassador to Israel has refused to comment for this report.
Due to the official cloak of secrecy, information about the arrest has not been completely fleshed out. Another report says he entered on a Polish passport - though that seems unlikely, because then he would have been arrested as a Polish citizen and his treatment would have been different. The more likely scenario is that he entered on either an Israeli or some other foreign passport.
A Polish source told Haaretz that the case is being handled by the Polish security service, which maintains close ties with both its German counterpart, the BND, and the Mossad.
Many questions remain unanswered in the affair. It is still not known, for instance, whether Uri Brodsky is the detainee's real name, or what role he allegedly played in Germany: Was he the Mossad's permanent representative in Germany, or did he come to Germany especially to secure the false passport, issued in the name of a real Israeli citizen, Michael Bodenheimer - a Bnei Brak rabbi who is entitled to a German passport because his grandparents were German?
A spokesman for Germany's federal prosecution told reporters that the offenses of which Brodsky is suspected - obtaining a document by fraud and membership in a foreign intelligence agency - carry a maximum sentence of five years.
Brodsky is not suspected of involvement in the actual hit on Mabhouh, and is not on the list of 36 suspects in that case that Dubai has given to Interpol.
Dubai's police chief, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, announced in an interview with The National newspaper yesterday that his country has no intention of requesting Brodsky's extradition to Dubai - even though Mabhouh's family has asked Dubai to do so.
In contrast, another paper, Gulf News, reported yesterday that Dubai is still considering requesting Brodsky's extradition. But even if Dubai made such a request, it seems unlikely that either Germany or Poland would comply.
One complication in Israel's efforts to secure Brodsky's release is that Germany apparently issued a European arrest warrant for him rather than an Interpol "red alert."
Nick Kaufman, an attorney who specializes in international law, explained to Haaretz that a red alert merely means a suspect is wanted for questioning, and is considered nonbinding. Therefore, states can exercise some discretion over whether to comply, and the suspect can also fight the extradition in court.
However, Kaufman continued, a European arrest warrant must be honored by other European Union members, and is not even subject to judicial review in the arresting country.
Brodsky himself told the Polish authorities that he is a businessman and completely innocent of the suspicions against him.
If he is a Mossad agent, as claimed in the foreign press, the question must be asked of why the spy agency allowed him to travel to an EU member state, regardless of whether he was on personal or Mossad business?
Did the Mossad not know about the German warrant? Did it not care? Or did it simply have no choice, given its relatively small cadre of experienced agents, but to reuse some of those involved in killing Mabhouh?
Avi Issacharoff and Ofer Aderet contributed to this report.