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Famed Hollywood producer says he was Israeli spy

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Arnon Milchan accepts the Legacy of Citizens Lifetime Achievement award at the 'From Vision to Reality' event celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the state of Israel in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles) Arnon Milchan accepts the Legacy of Citizens Lifetime Achievement award at the 'From Vision to Reality' event celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the state of Israel in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

By ARON HELLER

JERUSALEM (AP) — Stories about Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan's alleged double life have been circulating for years.

Now, the Israeli businessman behind hits like "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 a far-reaching interview aired Monday with Israel's Channel 2 TV's flagship investigative program "Uvda," Milchan detailed a series of clandestine affairs in which he was involved and particularly how he helped purchase 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.

According to an unauthorized biography published two years ago, Milchan worked for Israel's now-defunct Bureau of Scientific Relations, known as Lekem, which worked to obtain information for secret defense 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 connected 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," he said. "(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, working closely with directors such as Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Sergio Leone and Oliver Stone. 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."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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