Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hollywood producer admits he was a spy

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JERUSALEM -- Stories about Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan's alleged double life have been circulating for years.

Now, the Israeli businessman behind hits such as Pretty Woman, Fight Club and L.A. Confidential has finally come forth with a stunning admission -- for years, he served as an Israeli spy, buying arms on its behalf and boosting its alleged nuclear program.

In an interview aired Monday with Israel's Channel 2 TV's investigative program Uvda, Milchan detailed a series of clandestine affairs in which he was involved and particularly how he helped buy technologies Israel allegedly needed to operate nuclear bombs.

"I did it for my country and I'm proud of it," said Milchan, who ran a successful fertilizer company in Israel before making it big in Hollywood.

Even there, he says he continued with his clandestine work while maintaining close ties with Israel's leadership.

An unauthorized biography published two years ago said Milchan worked for Israel's now-defunct Bureau of Scientific Relations, which worked to obtain information for secret defence programs. The bureau was disbanded in 1987 after it was implicated in the spying affair for which Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. navy, was sentenced to life in prison.

Milchan also says other big Hollywood names were tied to his covert affairs. "When I came to Hollywood, I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted -- filmmaking, (but) sometimes it gets mixed up."

The 68-year-old Milchan founded the New Regency film company and has produced more than 120 movies since the 1970s. He forged an especially close relationship with Robert De Niro, who along with actors Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, is featured in Uvda's broadcast.

"I had heard but I wasn't sure," De Niro said of Milchan's activities. "I did ask him once and he told me that he was an Israeli and of course he would do these things for his country."

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2013 C12

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