Why Did Israeli Intelligence Lobby So Hard for Marc Rich to be Pardoned?

Shabtai Shavit, Israeli Mossad director in 1989-1996, wrote President Clinton in a letter requesting a pardon for the fugitive financier Marc Rich: “Mr. Rich always agreed and used his extensive network of contacts in these countries to produce results that sometimes were beyond the expected.”

The former agent knew that this cryptic wording would be understood where it counted.

What did he mean and why was it Shavit who filed the request?

DEBKA-Net-Weekly calls on its intelligence sources for the answer.

In the period of Shavit’s tenure, Marc Rich, already on the run, developed covert relations with the legendary East German spymaster, HVA chief Marcus Wolf. At the time, it was reported that the vast archive covering the Cold War operations of the East German secret service Stasi had been spirited out of Berlin in 1989 to Moscow, before even the fall of the Berlin Wall, and widely believed to have been acquired there by the CIA in an operation called “Rosewood”.

That was the story. But what really happened was that Rich brought Wolf into contact with the Israeli Mossad. Israel always claimed that the notorious “Mischa” Wolf had requested asylum and was refused. However, in the same year, Rich arranged for Wolf to bring some 800,000 of the most secret Stasi files to Israel in two secret visits. The most important file of all was the cipher key for decoding the names of the spies mentioned in the archives. Those files and the cipher key were passed from Tel Aviv to Washington, as a result of which the CIA was able to identify 300,000 agents and double agents employed by the former East Germany and Soviet Bloc countries around the world.

The Germans were left with the entire Stasi archives, but have never gained access to the cipher key. The CIA’s refusal to show it to them is a constant source of friction between Washington and Berlin.

Marc Rich claimed he deserved a US presidential pardon in view of the great service he performed for US and Israeli intelligence.

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