Cheryl Ben Tov (Hebrew: שריל בנטוב), born Cheryl Hanin in 1960, is an American real estate agent and former Israeli Mossad agent who became well known in 1986 when, under the name "Cindy", she persuaded former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu to go with her to Rome, where he was kidnapped,and transported to Israel. Vanunu faced a secret trial and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, spending nearly 12 of them in solitary confinement. Vanunu publicly released confidential information on Israel's nuclear reactor and claimed that Israel had created nuclear weapons, becoming the sixth nuclear power and the first since the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, of which Israel was not a signatory.
A feature in The Times revealed that Hanin was American-born but had moved to Israel as a teenager. Hanin grew up in Pennsylvania and Orlando, Florida in a Jewish family. Her father, Stanley Hanin, had founded Allied Discount Tires.
She spent a semester in Israel during high school at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education in Hod Hasharon, and upon her graduation in 1978, joined the Israeli Army. In 1985, she married Ofer Ben Tov, himself an Israeli intelligence officer, and at some point before 1986 was recruited and trained by the Mossad. In 1986, she was one of the Mossad agents that abducted Mordechai Vanunu.
Calling herself Cheryl Hanin, she now works as a real estate agent in Longwood, Florida, with her husband and their two daughters. In 1988, newspaper journalists traced her to her home in Netanya, Israel, where she still owns a villa that she rents out. She does not deny her role in the "Cindy" affair. Vanunu, immediately upon his release from prison in April 2004, said that he did not believe "Cindy" was a Mossad agent: "She was either an FBI or a CIA agent. I spent a week with her. I saw her picture. Cindy was a young woman from Philadelphia."
According to a 2007 article in the Canada Free Press, while Bentov worked in the Mossad she was familiar with Israeli politician Tzipi Livni. She said that Livni was "like all of us, good at her job".
Notes[edit | edit source]
- "The spy who came in from the cold: To put the heat on Iran", by Gordon Thomas, Canada Free Press, January 26, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
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- Jerusalem Post article from April 7, 1997
- "The Spy -- And the Man She Busted" in the St. Petersburg Times
- "The Girl Who Trapped Vanunu", by Uzi Mahnaimi
- "Vanunu 'honeytrap' spy seeks quiet life in Florida" by Ian Mckinnon in The Times Online
- "The History of the Honey Trap" by Phillip Knightley for Foreign Policy