Marcus Klingberg, perhaps the most damaging spy in Israel’s history, died on Monday in Paris at age 97.
From 1957, Klingberg, deputy director of the top-secret Israel Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona, south of Tel Aviv, and a professor of epidemiology at Tel Aviv University, passed information to the Soviet Union about Israel’s chemical and biological activities.
He was covertly arrested by the Shin Bet on January 19, 1983, and subsequently charged with spying for the KGB for three decades.
He was released in 2003 after spending some 20 years in prison — the first decade of which was in solitary confinement, where he was held under a pseudonym — and a subsequent period under house arrest.
Klingberg was born in Poland to a Hasidic Jewish family and moved to Sweden after World War II. It was there that he was apparently recruited by Soviet intelligence. He moved to Israel soon after the establishment of the Jewish state, and later denied that he had done so at the Soviets’ request.
He claimed to have spied for ideological reasons, and also said he felt he owed the Soviet Union a debt for its central role in defeating the Nazis.
On his release from prison, he moved to Paris, to be close to a daughter and grandson. He did not take French citizenship.