Ha'aretz: Israeli Who Spied For CIA:
Believe Me, I Am A Spy - I Am Even Ready To Be Swapped With Jonathan Pollard
Yossi Melman - Haaretz - May 18, 2001
Israeli who spied for CIA: Believe me, I am a spy - I am even ready to be swapped with Jonathan Pollard. Secret meetings with the CIA, code names, set-ups with hookers - parts of Andrzej Kielczynski's life story seem straight from an espionage novel.
In a shabby one-room, ground-floor apartment in the center of Tel Aviv, Andrzej Kielczynski sits and waits. Even he is not sure for what. Maybe for Shin Bet security service investigators who will come to arrest him. Maybe for a literary agent or publisher who will sign a fat book contract with him, and maybe for his American lawyer, who will inform him that a court has ordered the CIA to recognize him as having worked for them and to give him severance pay and a monthly stipend.
Andrzej Kielczynski has known better days. At 64, diabetic, thin, limping and walking with the aid of a cane, he looks a shadow of the burly man of many modes and adventures that he once was. He frequented the offices of prime ministers, government ministers and Knesset members. He appeared regularly in the gossip columns of the Israeli press, consorted with beautiful women and stayed in luxury suites at the expense of his hosts, including his handlers from the CIA.
It is possible not to believe his stories about his espionage escapades against Israel. In some of the examples he has given, there are inaccuracies, loopholes and contradictions. It is difficult to confirm any of his claims. It is possible that he simply has a wild imagination.
His life story shows that he underwent surprising changes in his political ideas and his way of life. He was a writer, a painter, a laborer, a government employee, and was suspected of having committed crimes. It is certainly possible to form the impression that he loves publicity and enjoys the exposure.
But a quick look at some of the documents in his possession indicates that there is indeed something to his story, and that he was indeed connected to the American intelligence agency. He has the business card of "Thomas Votz, Second Secretary at the Embassy of the United States." Votz was a CIA representative in Israel during the 1980s.
Kielczynski says he met Votz by chance at a cocktail party in 1985 at the villa of the German ambassador to Israel in Herzliya Pituah: "A short, bearded man came up to me, accompanied by his wife, Diana," relates Kielczynski. "I told him my name and he replied; 'Oh, Mr. Kielczynski, I know you very well. You are a famous individual.' He handed me his card and I gave him my address."
Kielczynski says that as far as he was concerned, this was just another innocent encounter. But its innocence evaporated when at 8:00 the next morning he was awakened by the doorbell of his apartment on Hubermann Street, opposite the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
"'It's me, Tommy,'" he reconstructs their first contact. "I opened the door and he came in with a bottle of Remy Martin. We spoke about all kinds of unimportant things and had a few drinks. Then he asked me: Why don't you ever go to the United States? Because I don't have a visa, I told him. No problem, he smiled. Bring me your passport and we'll arrange a visa for you."
The American diplomat took his Israeli passport and a few days later, came back to his apartment with the entry visa stamped inside. In the passport, which Kielczynski displayed during the interview, the issue date stamped on the visa is June 26, 1985.
Then Kielczynski realized that the connection with Thomas Votz was neither chance nor innocent. "I understood that I was going to be a spy for the Americans and I didn't mind. I saw this as a job like any other job."
The next meeting between the two took place at Cafe Apropos beside Habima. "When I was sitting there with Tommy, suddenly Fuad [Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, at the time a Knesset member from Ezer Weizman's Yahad movement], came in and waved to me. He came over to the table and asked me what was new." This apparently gave Kielczynski "extra points" with his American recruiter.
Adopted by poets
Andrzej Kielczynski was born in June, 1937, in a small city near Warsaw, to a mother who was half-Jewish and a Catholic father. When World War II broke out, his parents joined the underground and he and his brother, Bogdan, were given to a family that was asked to take care of them and hide them.
At the war's end, his parents came back and collected them, and told them for the first time that they were part Jewish. This made no special impression on the young Andrzej. He was raised as a Polish Catholic. His father was a colonel in the army and he himself joined the technical branch of the air force and became an officer at the age of 20. In January 1958, the family immigrated to Israel.
"Even though he was in the army, my father hated the communists and took advantage of the fact that my mother was Jewish to leave Poland and come here," he explains.
In Israel, the family lived in very difficult circumstances, first at Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk and afterward in poor neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. Kielczynski served in the armored corps, was demobilized, studied chemistry at Bar-Ilan University and, at the beginning of the 1960s, got married, got divorced and remarried (since then, he has done this several more times).
In those days he became friendly with a group of young poets and writers called Akkad, after the name of the publishing house of poet Itamar Yoaz Kest and others. The poet Anda Amir Pickerfeld took him under her wing and tried to help the new immigrant.
Members of Akkad have two memories of him. They recall that he was moderate in his political ideas, "left of Mapai," as they put it, and find it hard to forgive and forget that he disappeared after they signed as guarantors for a bank loan for him. Some of them had to pay the loan off instead of him for a long period.
Kielczynski doesn't recall this incident, but is prepared to say, "Maybe I also did bad things, but all in all, I was a good person, and I didn't mean to do people any harm, certainly not on purpose."
He says that during the 1960s he worked at odd jobs, including selling picture frames from door to door. In this way, he first met Ariel Sharon, when he was still living in the Zahala neighborhood of Tel Aviv. From selling frames he decided to become a painter, in part because this is what his brother, Bogdan, did: "Of course, we weren't real painters. It was all fraud and trickery, but it succeeded."
Kielczynski and his doings began to appear frequently in the newspapers, especially in Uri Avnery's Ha'olam Hazeh weekly. His public renown became greater when he joined Herut and afterward the Likud, and he made the acquaintance of the leader of the movement, Menachem Begin ("a Polish gentleman who reminded me of my father"), Dov Shilansky, who eventually became Knesset Speaker, and Ariel Sharon, who was agriculture minster at the time. Sharon arranged a job for him as a lands inspector for the Israel Lands Administration.
At a certain stage, Kielczynski also flirted with Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach movement. Later he found that he shared another common denominator with Begin and Shilansky: the hatred of Germany. But for him, this was an obsession. Kielczynski demonstrated in front of the German Embassy, which was then located on Be'eri Street in Tel Aviv and once, on Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Day, he threatened to burn it down.
But his radical protest did not last long and, during the 1980s, Kielczynski changed his spots. The German ambassador invited him for a conversation and then pelted him with invitations to visit Germany, including lush meals, good liquor and fancy hotels. Kielczynski's hatred suddenly became a song of praise for Israeli-German cooperation.
Salary and citizenship
During the first half of the 1980s, he was a member of the Likud Central Committee, and thanks to its chairman, Ariel Sharon, to whom he was particularly close, he was appointed to the security committee of the central committee. Kielczynski says that it was this appointment and his ties with government ministers that prompted Votz to take an interest in him and recruit him for American intelligence.
After a number of open meetings, the American diplomat informed him that from then on, they would conduct a clandestine relationship in an agreed-upon code.
"Next time, call the embassy and ask to talk to my wife," Votz notified him. "She is a collector of copper, so that you as an artist won't arouse any suspicions. Tell her that you have found what she was looking for, and this will be a signal to me to come and meet you at the Tayelet Cafe."
At the meeting at the cafe, recalls Kielczynski: "He told me explicitly: 'The United States needs you, help us. Come to us." I said, 'Okay, fine. But what do I get from you?' He asked: 'What do you suggest?' I said, 'I want American citizenship and a salary.' He said, 'No problem. You'll get money. About the citizenship, as far as I'm concerned, you're an American citizen from this day on. The general director of the CIA has the authority to grant citizenship to people who work for us. So I'll pass it on."
From then on, their meetings took place outside of Tel Aviv and they used only public telephones. Once Votz picked him up in a rented car at the bus station at Kibbutz Ein Hamifratz; another time they met at a cafe in Netanya. After a while Votz told him "it was beginning to get dangerous to meet in Israel," and set up a meeting at a Frankfurt hotel. "He also told me that at that meeting I'd have to undergo some checks and there would be a contract signed with me."
Kielczynski was asked to buy a plane ticket to Frankfurt and to be there at a specified time and place. He did as he was asked and Votz was waiting for him; as if in a chance encounter in the street, the American slipped a note into his hand bearing the name of a hotel and a room number. Kielczynski does not remember the exact date. He thinks it was in October 1985.
The meeting-place was the Savoy Hotel. At about that time, Votz also met Major (res.) Yossi Amit, an officer in a secret unit of the intelligence branch of the Israel Defense Forces, at the same hotel. As a result of this meeting, Amit was convicted of espionage by the Haifa District court in 1986 and sentenced to 12 years. The Supreme Court rejected his appeal, but after seven-and-a-half years in prison, the authorities released him. To this day Amit claims he is innocent.
From the combination of these two incidents, one can conclude that Votz was not posted to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv only as an expert on terrorism from the CIA, but also identified and recruited Israelis as agents.
Votz and Kielczynski spent a week in Frankfurt with other CIA people, every day at a different hotel. He underwent medical examinations ("They even accompanied me to the toilet to give a urine sample"), graphology tests, polygraph tests and a practical lesson in surveillance techniques, during which he was taught to see if he was being followed. The main event was the signing of the contract. Kielczynski says his salary was set at $3,000 a month.
"Tommy said to me, 'Welcome to the family.' He explained that my salary was set according to CIA rates for various states and geographical areas. I don't read English, but I could see the CIA logo on the paper and, several times he mentioned the phrase 'Central Intelligence Agency.' After the signing, Tommy put the contract in his pocket, and I was naive and didn't know anything about intelligence services, so I didn't ask for a copy."
Kielczynski says that between then and 1991, he provided a great deal of information about Israel, and recalls that the Americans were especially interested in the construction of Jewish settlements in the territories, Israel's nuclear program, and discussions in the government and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. His sources were ministers, government employees and Knesset members - who did not, of course, know what use he would make of the information they gave him.
According to his story, he got the information about the transfers of funds for the building of settlements from a certain Likud Knesset member who was a member of the Knesset Finance Committee and has since passed away.
"I invited him to a party at my apartment in Tel Aviv. There were some girls there and drinks. He did not know that the girls were hookers I had hired for $200 each, of course, as part of the generous expense account I had from the CIA. This Knesset member would come to my place, drink, get drunk and go into the bedroom with one of the girls. This went on for a few months. Every time he went off with a girl, I took advantage of the opportunity to take Finance Committee documents out of his briefcase and photograph them."
Asked if he or his handlers photographed the man in the act, Kielczynski bursts out laughing. "I am not prepared to address this question," he replies. He boasts that with the help of another acquaintance, who worked in a government office, he managed to get his hands on confidential parts of the State Comptroller's Report that dealt with the Mossad and Shin Bet secret services. Another friend arranged a visit for him to a secret site where, according to reports from abroad, Israel's missiles armed with nuclear warheads are stored. From a brother-in-law of David Levy, who was then the absorption minister, he claims to have heard details of the positions Israel would take in secret talks with the U.S.
"My handler told me that all this information went straight to the desk of George Bush [Sr.], and I got a nice bonus from him."
Kielczynski refuses to reveal the sums of money he received during the years he was working, but the impression is that it came to tens of thousands of dollars, mostly in cash and some of it in bank transfers, which he deposited in a bank in Austria. Since then, because of his ostentatious and profligate lifestyle, he wasted his money and is now penniless.
A short time after he was recruited in Frankfurt, Kielczynski got a new handler. Votz stepped out of the picture and was replaced at first by someone who introduced himself as Ben Rubin No. 1, who was subsequently replaced by Ben Rubin No. 2. At clandestine meetings with the first Rubin, he spoke Hebrew; with the second, Polish.
They met in secret in hotels or public places abroad. The meetings were set up in advance in phone calls to public telephones in Arlosoroff Street, Kikar Hamedina and the corner of Jabotinsky Street and Baltimore Street. Kielczynski's code name was "Yosef Barak" and later "Moshe Barak." He took these phone calls according to an advance "signal" - chalk marks on a telephone pole on the corner of Arlosoroff and Shlomo Hamelech, or in a public telephone box.
Kielczynski says that in 1992 he found out by chance that he was under suspicion in Israel. "I was sitting in the office of Moshe Katsav's aide - he was transportation minister then - before a trip abroad. The aide phoned the airport so that I would get special treatment as a friend of the minister's. And then the man at the airport said to him - and I heard this because the speakerphone was on - 'Forget Kielczynski, he's an American spy.' I was scared and a few days later I left Israel for Poland."
From there, he says, he phoned the emergency number for his handlers in the U.S., but they avoided him. In this way, he says, their connection was broken. In Poland, his name has been linked to criminal acts. He was arrested there with his nephew and other people as suspects in robberies and protection rackets. The nephew was sentenced to prison for murder. Kielczynski was suspected only of having illegal possession of a gun.
Asked why he needed a weapon, he replies: "To protect myself from the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the CIA if they tried to wipe me out."
In 1995, he went from Poland to the U.S. to testify before a special Senate intelligence committee and to tell his story. According to his lawsuit against the CIA, only after the intervention of Susan Spelding from the congressional intelligence committee, CIA counsel Kathleen McGinn agreed to meet with the plaintiff and his attorney, Richard Gardner in 1996. During the meeting, which took place in Washington, Kielczynski finally found out that he was not part of the CIA any longer.
In 1998 he went to the U.S. again, requested political asylum and fought a legal battle to force the CIA to reveal documents, particularly his contract, which would support his demands for severance pay and a stipend.
At the beginning of 2001 a court in Brooklyn rejected his suit. The immigration authorities refused to grant him political asylum; he was expelled from the U.S. and landed in Israel. Two days later, two people from the Shin Bet came and interrogated him in regard to various matters about which he had provided information to the Americans. They warned him not to talk to journalists.
"But I have nothing to lose," he says. "I have to get enough money to buy a small apartment for myself and my wife. Maybe after the newspaper interviews the CIA will change its mind and pay me what I have coming to me, or else a book will come out of it. I don't care. I am even ready to be swapped with Jonathan Pollard."
The Justice Ministry commented: "The Shin Bet is investigating this case. At the end of the investigation, it will be possible to determine what charges are involved, if any."
The Shin Bet has provided the following response: "The investigation of Kielczynski has been suspended at this stage."
The reason for the suspension of the investigation was not given. One can only assume that the Israeli government is hesitant to proceed with this case. If indeed Kielczynski worked for the CIA, charging him could cause a crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations. Kielczynski was previously a target for the Shin Bet department that investigates Jewish subversive activities because of his demonstrations against the German Embassy and his association with Rabbi Kahane. But he was never suspected of being a spy.
The spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Israel has declined to comment.
MK David Levy (Gesher) says: "It's funny, he had no access to secret material. It's true that he was close to the Sharon camp and acted patriotic when he spoke to Herut movement people. I understand that he is in a difficult situation, so I will not say anything more about him."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's media advisors did not answer requests for a comment.
J4JP Note: The above article was posted to the J4JP web November 21, 2005. Courtesy of IMRA.