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Official: Israel had no improper contact with U.S. army engineer

February 20, 1997

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied today that Israel had any ``improper contact″ with a U.S. Army engineer suspected of giving Israeli officers classified military data.

David A. Tenenbaum, 39, who is under FBI investigation in Detroit, said he inadvertently shared documents for more than 10 years with Israeli liaison officers posted at a base where he worked as a mechanical engineer.

``There has been no improper contact between Tenenbaum and anybody or (any) institute associated with the state of Israel,″ the aide, David Bar-Illan, told The Associated Press.

The revelations have brought back memories of another Jewish American _ Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy intelligence analyst sentenced to life in prison in 1986 for passing secrets to Israel.

An FBI affidavit said Tenenbaum admitted passing on the information after a lie detector test given as part of a security clearance upgrade at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Mich., where he is a mechanical engineer.

The information included test data about Patriot missiles, used against Iraqi scuds during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and about the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Humvee, the affidavit said.

Tenenbaum admitted that he took home documents that were classified ``For Official Use Only,″ along with cover sheets labeled ``Secret,″ the affidavit said.

He has not been arrested or charged.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said Wednesday its military personnel stationed in the United States are ``under the most explicit and categorical instructions to decline any and all offers of classified information″ outside of official channels.

The ministry statement added that U.S. authorities have not approached Israel about the investigation, but that Israel would cooperate if asked.

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