A day after the gag order was lifted over Russia's expulsion of Israel's military attaché, IDF Colonel Vadim Leiderman, on allegations of espionage, new reports claim that Russian intelligence tried to recruit him as a double agent. The Russians reportedly tried to pressure Leiderman with evidence that he collected classified intelligence. Leiderman refused to cooperate and was therefore expelled.
Israeli sources say that the Russian misinterpreted Leiderman's conduct and that he spoke the truth about his relations with Russian intelligence agencies.
Hebrew daily "Ma'ariv" reports that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally approved Col. Leiderman's arrest and expulsion.
The BBC reports that Leiderman's diplomatic immunity is what saved him in Russia, because it prevented Russia from initiating legal proceedings against him. A senior Russian official told Leiderman to get out with his family within 48 hours.
The background for Leiderman's expulsion is not clear, but he was involved in promoting Israeli-Russian defense deals. Israel and Russia are due to shortly sign a military cooperation agreement as a platform for the pending deals. An agreement has been delayed because of US pressure on Israel not to sell advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) to Russia, which angered the Russians.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 19, 2011
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