U.S. Bought Nearby Apartment to Spy on Ehud Barak, Israel Suspects

Israel noticed back in 2007 that the U.S. had rented the apartment opposite Barak's and stuffed it with electronic equipment.

Recently leaked U.S. documents indicating that the National Security Agency was spying on Israel’s leaders during Ehud Olmert’s term as prime minister appear to confirm Israeli suspicions - that the U.S. government had been keeping tabs on then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak from a nearby apartment, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.

The paper reported that in June 2007, shortly after Barak was appointed defense minister, Israeli security services noticed that American officials had rented an apartment on Pinkas Street in Tel Aviv. The apartment, which overlooks Barak’s apartment in the luxury Akirov Towers, was equipped it with an extensive amount of electronic equipment that might have been used for surveillance.

The U.S. has said there was no connection between the rental and Barak’s appointment, Yedioth said.

But National Security Agency documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that Washington was indeed spying on Olmert and Barak.

The documents, which were shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, demonstrate that in January 2009, when Olmert was premier, an email address identified as “Israeli prime minister” was being monitored.

“This was an unimpressive target,” Olmert told the New York Times in a telephone interview. He said staff members often handled those emails and that it was unlikely for any secrets to have been compromised.

An Israeli government source said the United States has lost the legitimacy to keep convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in jail for spying on the U.S. for Israel.

“If the Snowden affair manages to dislodge something in the wall of U.S. hypocrisy that is holding Pollard there, then maybe there was some benefit to the release of this information,” the source said.

The documents also indicate that Washington was spying on email exchanges involving the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s international cooperation department at the Israeli Embassy in Kenya, Yedioth reported.

Another Israeli target includes the Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a center for research in atomic and nuclear physics, The New York Times reported.