Aviem Sella (Template:Lang-he, born January 7, 1946) is a former colonel in the Israeli Air Force. He is a combat veteran of the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, commanded Operation Opera, the air strike against the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, and was a commanding officer in Operation Mole Cricket 19 during the 1982 Lebanon War.
While a graduate student in New York, Sella recruited Jonathan Pollard to spy for Israel. Pollard was indicted on espionage charges in 1987. After Pollard was arrested, his wife Anne informed Sella. She had lost an agent following her and met Sella at a restaurant. Irit Erb and Yossi Yagur, other Israelis involved in the Pollard affair, also were also informed due to Anne. All three successfully escaped to Israel before the FBI could stop them.
Pollard's Israeli handlers were granted immunity from prosecution in the United States in exchange for cooperation after Pollard's arrest. Sella's role, however, was unknown at the time and the Israelis were not forthcoming about his involvement. For this reason, Sella was not given immunity by the US when his role was uncovered. Israel then refused to extradite Sella for questioning. In March 1987, Sella was indicted in absentia on three counts of espionage, facing a maximum of life imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. In June 1990, he was declared a fugitive from justice.
After Sella was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of Tel Nof Airbase, and the U.S. Congress reacted by threatening to cut aid to Israel. U.S. officials in Israel were instructed to have no contact with Sella, or with the airbase so long as he commanded it. Sella then voluntarily stepped down to defuse tensions. He was subsequently given a job as an instructor at Israel's National Security College.
References[edit | edit source]
- Schlein, Lior; Noam Ophir. "Six Days in June". IAF Magazine 145 (June 2002). http://www.iaf.org.il/Templates/Journal/Journal.In.aspx?lang=HE&lobbyID=50&folderID=621&subfolderID=623&docfolderID=625&docID=19927. Retrieved 2008-09-10. Template:He icon
- U.S. Jurors Indict An Israeli Officer On Spying Counts. Werner, Leslie Maitland (March 4, 1987) New York Times
- "U.S. JURORS INDICT AN ISRAELI OFFICER ON SPYING COUNTS". The New York Times. March 4, 1987. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/04/us/us-jurors-indict-an-israeli-officer-on-spying-counts.html.
- Olive, Ronald J. (2006). Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-652-0. http://books.google.com/?id=wHoAWHUzqCwC.
- "Israeli in Pollard's Spy Case Named a Military Instructor". The New York Times. April 5, 1987. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/05/world/israeli-in-pollard-s-spy-case-named-a-military-instructor.html.