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  • CBright10@aol.com
    As reported by the Washington Times/Associated Press: March 6, 2002 U.S. deports Israeli students ASSOCIATED PRESS Authorities have arrested and deported
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2002
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      As reported by the Washington Times/Associated Press:

      March 6, 2002

      U.S. deports Israeli 'students' ASSOCIATED PRESS
      Authorities have arrested and deported dozens of young Israelis since
      early last year who represented themselves as art students in efforts to gain
      access to sensitive federal office buildings and the homes of government
      employees, U.S. officials said.
      A draft report from the Drug Enforcement Administration — which first
      characterized the activities as suspicious — said the youths' actions "may
      well be an organized intelligence-gathering activity."
      Immigration officials deported them for visa violations; no criminal
      espionage charges were filed.
      The arrests, made in an unspecified number of major U.S. cities from
      California to Florida, came amid public warnings from U.S. intelligence
      agencies about suspicious behavior by people posing as Israeli art students
      and "attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings."
      The Israelis were arrested and deported on charges of working in the
      United States without authorization or overstaying visits on tourist visas,
      said Russ Bergeron, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization
      Service in Washington. He described dozens of arrests since early 2001, but
      gave no exact figures.
      The DEA report said a majority of the students questioned by U.S.
      investigators acknowledged having served in military intelligence,
      electronic-signals interception or explosive-ordnance units in the Israeli
      military. The DEA said one person questioned was the son of a two-star
      Israeli general, one had served as the bodyguard to the head of the Israeli
      army and another served in a Patriot-missile unit.
      Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yaffa Ben-Ari said it was
      "nonsense" that the students were spying on the United States.
      Another Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Irit Stopper, confirmed that a few
      Israelis posing as art students were expelled from the United States for
      working without permits. However, they were not accused of espionage, she
      said. She did not say how many Israelis were expelled and did not give any
      additional details.
      The DEA report said that among U.S. sites apparently targeted was Tinker
      Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, home to the military's AWACS surveillance
      planes and the place where many of the nation's B-1 bombers are repaired.
      Investigators also said that one female art student went to the home of a
      worker for the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver to sell paintings
      and returned later to photograph the house, according to the report.
      The DEA report was first obtained by a French Web site that specializes
      in intelligence news — Intelligenceonline.com — and confirmed yesterday as
      authentic by DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite in Washington. The Web site said
      120 Israelis had been arrested.
      An FBI official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, noted that
      there were no espionage charges filed against any of the individuals and that
      they had been deported. Asked whether any spying activity occurred, the
      official repeated that no charges had been filed.
      A Justice Department official, also asking not to be publicly
      identified, said investigators have been aware of some "linkage" between the
      students and purported espionage activities in the United States since early
      2001, and said authorities have made arrests in Dallas, Chicago, San Diego
      and in south Florida. Immigration service spokesman Rodney Germain in Miami
      said five or six persons were arrested in that area at least six months ago
      on immigration counts.
      No one within the Justice Department has expressed concerns about the
      Israeli students potentially committing espionage, Justice spokesman Bryan
      Sierra said.
      The U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a federal
      agency, circulated a public warning in March 2001 urging employees to report
      contact with people describing themselves as Israeli art students.


      Christopher Bright
      CBright10@...



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