After a day-long flagrant violation of a court gag order and
disregard of military censorship by most of the nation's
media, the state allowed the publication Sunday of the
arrest of retired military scientist Brig.-Gen. (ret.)
Yitzhak Yaakov, 75, a former chief of IDF research and
development and so-called father of Israeli hi-tech, who has
been held in custody since March 28.
According to documents released in the afternoon by the Tel
Aviv District Court, he was charged with passing on
"confidential information to unauthorized people with the
intention of causing harm to state security." What exactly
he passed on and to whom was still banned from publication
and under strict censorship, but sensational foreign press
reports mentioned nuclear weapons information that he passed
on to a Russian friend.
Court President Uri Goren would not allow any other details
released and the gag order remained in effect. However,
according to the London-based Sunday Times, Yaakov
helped develop Israel's nuclear weapons and information on
this may have been passed on to a Russian with whom he had a
The IDF issued a statement last night saying that Yaakov
served in the IDF from 1955 until 1973, with the bulk of his
service spent in weapons development.
After his discharge, Yaakov served as chief scientist for
the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade for four years,
after which he worked as a consultant. In the late 1970s,
Yaakov emigrated to the US and he gained dual citizenship in
According to a charge sheet submitted by state attorney
Devorah Chen, the defense establishment had received
information that Yaakov had passed on confidential
information he obtained. Defense officials had in the past
met a number of times with Yaakov and warned about such
matters, but to apparently to no avail.
"Despite this, in the past years he transferred without
authority and with the intention of harming state security
significant information that he received in the framework of
his military service to elements who were not authorized to
receive it," the public charge sheet said.
The IDF Spokesman said that it was classified military
information he learned in the IDF. Officials from the
defense establishment met with Yaakov twice, in 1999 and
2000, to warn him against passing on any information, an
army statement said.
Chen, head of the special branch for security matters in the
state prosecutors' office, said that the state was sorry
that the gag order was so flagrantly violated and
particularly noted the publication of the details in
Ha'aretz, and said the matter would be
In the past, Israeli authorities released information about
similar incidents only after the trial and sentencing, a
process that typically takes many months.
Yaakov's attorney Yehoshua Resnick told The Jerusalem
Post that his client pleaded innocent to the charges. He
also said that the reports were distorted and harmful.
"This is not a case of a spy passing on state secrets to
hostile elements," Resnick said. "We are certain that the
truth will come out of this affair shortly and his innocence
will be proven." He added that Yaakov suffers from a heart
Yaakov was born in Tel Aviv in 1926 and served in the
Palmach and the Hagana. He was a deputy commander of the
Gush Etzion bloc in 1948 and later earned a degree in
mechanical engineering from the Technion. He then returned
to military service, developing weapons for special forces
and later tanks. He played a formidable role as head of the
weapons development department and later headed the joint
IDF/Defense Ministry research and development division.
Yaakov also has a degree in management from MIT and has
lectured at Israeli universities.
According to the Sunday Times, until last September,
Yaakov worked in the U.S. as chairman of Constellation 3D
Inc., a computer hardware firm with laboratories in Israel
Yaakov's arrest is said to have stunned his friends in
America, who portrayed him as a "naive old man" who may have
behaved carelessly but would never have deliberately
betrayed his country.
A spokesman for the State Department was quoted as saying
that Yaakov would be entitled to American consular
assistance, but had not so far sought such assistance.