A new article published on Monday by the New York Times says that the Israeli government is using contractors in the US for a variety of purposes, including data collection.
The article by reporter Josh Dawsey states that a former employee of a US government contracting company told Dawsey that in 2015, “Israeli government employees were instructed by their superiors to ‘go to work for the Americans’ in order to collect information about Americans from the US government.”
The former employee added that the information was “gathered by American law enforcement agencies and used for the benefit of the Israeli state.”
The article then quotes an unnamed former US government employee who said that this sort of data collection was not unusual for Israel, since its government “has been doing it for a long time.”
Dawsey writes that this information collection was carried out by Israeli intelligence officers and contractors who have access to classified and sensitive information that the government “would never want to share.”
The Israeli government has been accused of illegally spying on American citizens for years, and is widely considered one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
But the latest revelations of Israel’s data collection capabilities may help it continue to gain leverage in US-Israeli relations.
The New York State Assembly passed a bill earlier this year that would criminalize spying on US citizen and companies, but President Donald Trump has not signed it into law.
The bill has sparked international protests and has been criticized for potentially undermining Israel’s diplomatic relationship with the US.