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Trump accepts Israeli denial of spying on US

September 13, 2019

The US president has said he accepts Israeli President Netanyahu's denials regarding spying on the White House. Media reports claimed surveillance devices were discovered and that they were most likely linked to Israel.

USA Washington - Donald Trump on the phone
Image: Getty Images/AFP/N. Kamm

US President Donald Trump expressed his faith in President Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday saying that he did not believe Israel was spying on the United States.

Politico had reported that Israel was most likely behind cellphone surveillance devices found near the White House.

Read more: Trump's stance on intelligence questioned

However, speaking while on a trip to Russia, Netanyahu called the possibility of Israeli surveillance devices in the United States "a complete fabrication."

"I have a directive: No intelligence connection in the United States, no spying," he said. "It's rigorously enforced without any exception."

Trump seemed satisfied with his Israeli counterpart's denial.

"I don't think the Israelis were spying on us," he told reporters at the White House. "I would find that hard to believe."

Earlier, Israel's foreign and intelligence minister, Israel Katz, said the country "does not conduct any espionage missions in the United States."

"The United States and Israel share between them a great deal of intelligence information and work together to prevent threats and to strengthen the security of the two states," he said.

Unclear if surveillance efforts were successful

The allegations emanated from a Politico report that claimed miniature surveillance devices, known as "StingRays," were discovered both near the White House and elsewhere in Washington, and that they were most likely linked to Israel.

Several former national security officials told the website that forensic analysis conducted by the FBI and other agencies connected the equipment to Israeli agents.

Politico's report said: "The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates -- though it's not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful."

jsi/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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