American Officer Returns to US to Face Possible Charges of Espionage for Israel

Published August 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Munir K. Nasser 

Washington, DC 

 

 

An intelligence officer in the US Army Reserve with access to highly classified material returned to the United States from Israel on Tuesday to face charges of desertion and possibly espionage. 

Lt. Col. Jeremiah Mattysse, 49, denied allegations by an Israeli American woman who claimed to be his girlfriend that he sent her bags of secret documents or disclosed US sensitive material. 

A State Department official told Albawaba.com that Mattysse voluntarily agreed to return to the US and will be processed and restored to active duty status at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He said that Mattysse would be tried in a military court and face military and not criminal charges.  

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, refused to confirm or deny that the US is treating this as an espionage case. He stressed that given the nature of the charges in the ongoing investigation, further comment is not possible. 

He said, however, that the US Army has charged Mattysse with being absent without leave, desertion, and conduct unbecoming an officer. The Department of Defense is going to decide on how he is going to be treated. He will go to fort Knox to face charges on the three issues. He will get a lawyer and will appear before the court to defend himself.  

He refused to answer any questions about any possible classified material released by Mattysse to Israel or about why he went to Israel. “That’s part of the ongoing investigation,” he said.  

State Department officials believe that the girlfriend played up the Mattysse’s episode in an effort to get the Israeli government to protect him against the US. Initially, the officials were alarmed by Mattysse’s disappearance and began talking behind the scenes with the Defense Department about what secret documents he has access to.  

Some analysts in Washington noted, however, that American officials did not characterize Mattysse's episode as a case of espionage, and some of them cast doubt on the girlfriend's credibility. They questioned her account of Mattysse's intentions--including his supposed plan to seek asylum in Syria. 

The State Department official said that no one is taking Mattysse’s girlfriend seriously. “Everybody who interviewed her did not take her seriously, especially about her story of having bags full of documents mailed to her from the US,” he noted.  

Mattysse, who reportedly converted to Judaism about a decade ago, is said to have developed a deepening affection for Israel. Earlier this month he requested to emigrate to Israel and his request was under consideration.  

Mattysse was removed in February from his position as commander of the Army Reserve. 

Intelligence Support Center in Texas, whose mission is to train reservists in intelligence work. 

His removal was connected to an extramarital affair he had been involved in, according to Press reports in Texas. After failing to report to work following a leave earlier this month, he was charged with desertion, absence without leave and conduct unbecoming an officer. 

Mattysse’s girlfriend told Israeli newspapers that he sees himself in the mold of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the former civilian Navy intelligence analyst who sold highly classified data to Israel in the mid-1980s.  

According to US officials, she telephoned the US Embassy in Tel Aviv last Friday, saying she had classified materials that Mattysse had sent to Israel. When diplomats arrived at her home in northeast of Tel Aviv, they found no documents that could be described as classified. Later, however, she denied that she has seen any documents – Albawaba.com  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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