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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spy: Liberty or Death

JERUSALEM () -- A 78-year-old Israeli scientist jailed since 1983 for spying for the former Soviet Union was quoted Thursday as saying he would rather die than serve out his 20-year sentence.

"I beg the state to help me die in prison. At least that deed they should do," Dr. Marcus Klingberg told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. He has sought early release because of ill health.

An epidemiologist, Klingberg was jailed while deputy head of the Nes Ziona Biological Institute near Tel Aviv where he worked from 1957 until his arrest. French newspapers said last year that scientists there were manufacturing biological weapons.

"I admit I was a spy, but the opposition to my release now is based solely on vengeance," Klingberg told Haaretz after appearing before a closed-door meeting of the parole board on Wednesday.