Klingberg, Highest Ranking Soviet Spy Ever Caught by Israel, Dies at 97

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Avraham Marcus Klingberg released from Israeli prison. 1998.
Avraham Marcus Klingberg released from Israeli prison. 1998.Credit: AFP

Avraham Marcus Klingberg, the highest-ranking Soviet spy ever caught by Israel, has died at the age of 97. Klingberg was arrested as a Soviet spy in 1983 thanks to the work of a double agent

Klingberg, who was the deputy head of the top-secret Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona, immigrated to Israel in late 1948. Before immigrating to Israel, he had served in the Red Army during World War II.

When he was captured, Klingberg initially told his Israeli interrogators that he began working as a Soviet spy in 1957, after being blackmailed by a Soviet operative, but Israeli intelligence believes he was already a Soviet agent when he moved to Israel.

The Klingberg case was under a blanket gag order until 2008.

FILE PHOTO: Avraham Marcus Klingberg released from Israeli prison. Credit: AP

In his memoir, Klingberg wrote that during his trial for espionage, he saw a note that had been accidentally left on his file by the prosecution. The note revealed he had been exposed by a double agent. The military censor deleted this reference from Klingberg's memoir.

Klingberg was suspected of being a Soviet spy as early as 1963, but he was exculpated after passing a polygraph test. Further information received aroused suspicion over Klingberg, but after having failed once, Shin Bet officials were reluctant to act prematurely.

The information from the double agent, received in 1983, was considered sufficient to prove Klingberg's complicity. After being interrogated at a secret location in Tel Aviv, Klingberg admitted he had been working for the Soviets. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail. After having served 16 years in prison, he was released to house arrest.

In 2003, after the 20-year sentence was over, he was allowed to leave Israel and live with his daughter in Paris.

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