Israeli Spymaster Gave Away Secrets to Flight Attendant, Complaint Claims

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Haaretz
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Yossi cohen at a ceremony in Jerusalem in April.
Yossi cohen at a ceremony in Jerusalem in April.Credit: Emil Salman
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Haaretz

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen may have disclosed classified information to a civilian which had the potential to endanger him personally, Israeli television reported on Monday.

According to Channel 13, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit received a complaint that Cohen, who stepped down as head of the foreign intelligence organization in May, had shared sensitive information with a flight attendant, a breach of operational security which was allegedly known to agency officials.

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Mandelblit is reported to be examining the allegations with an eye to whether the matter rises to the level of a criminal violation.

Responding to the report, Cohen told Channel 13 that he had “not committed any information security offenses, there is no flight attendant and no close contact. The Attorney General has not contacted me regarding any complaint.”

This is the second time this summer that Cohen has come under fire for disclosing sensitive facts relating to Israel’s intelligence apparatus. In an interview on the “Uvda” TV program last month, Cohen discussed Mossad operations abroad, detailing how Israeli operations in Iran were carried out by a “Mossad operational team” whose operatives speak “foreign languages,” the implication being that the “team” that participated in the daring operation to steal Iran’s military nuclear archive on January 31, 2018, was composed of foreigners.

Cohen described how the Mossad agents stole the archive. "It was an industrial area; trucks, guards, and workers started to arrive and a crowd began to form, and so of course you can't jump over fences and break through walls."

 "You break into a safe, you break its wall, and use a flamethrower, 'Ocean's 11' style." The former Mossad chief and his agents, he said, read the documents stolen from the safe in real-time. "We realized we had what we wanted. We had the Iranian military nuclear program," Cohen said.

Some critics have claimed that Cohen’s revelations about the operation itself may assist those seeking to gather details about the Mossad’s operational methods.

Cohen also said that he would return the gift of thousands of dollars that he received from Australian billionaire James Packer, describing the decision as an "honest mistake.”

Cohen was asked about his relationship with Packer following a Haaretz investigation, which revealed he had received a $20,000 gift for his daughter's wedding, though the figure cited in 'Uvda' was lower.

The recently retired Mossad chief, who is a close confidant of outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also asserted that "everything was done in consultation and with the approval of the attorney general" and that Packer wanted to give "much more."

Earlier this month, Japanese conglomerate holding company SoftBank Group announced that Cohen will head its investment operations in Israel.

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