Ex-Mossad Chief Cohen Calls Cash Gift From Australian Billionaire 'Honest Mistake'

After a Haaretz exposé revealed Cohen took thousands of dollars from James Packer, the ex-Mossad chief tells TV program 'Uvda' that he would return the money ■ Cohen also describes Mossad nabbing of Iranian nuclear files, but insists he did not decide to go public with them

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Haaretz
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יוסי כהן בריאיון ל"עובדה". אמר שישיב לפאקר את הכסף
יוסי כהן בריאיון ל"עובדה". חייך למראיינתCredit: Screenshot from Channel 12
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Haaretz

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said Thursday 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" in an interview with Israeli investigative TV show 'Uvda.'

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.

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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."

Cohen said that he did not know for a fact that the Australian businessman had drug and alcohol problems. "If you had met with Packer in those days, you would have a found a sensible, warm and avowed supporter of the State of Israel," he added.

The Mossad chief also covered the theft of Iranian nuclear archives in 2018. "I told my subordinates: 'Get ready to bring these home to me,' knowing that the material could potentially provide a broader picture of the Iranian nuclear project." The decision, Cohen added, was made two years before the operation took place.

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.

Cohen added that he was not the one who made the decision to publish the materials from the archive. The heads of three Israeli intelligence branches discussed the matter with the prime minister, said Cohen, and none of them objected to the publication of the archive.

Netanyahu unveiling the nuclear archives in 2018Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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