The Israeli secret service, Mossad, spied on Jörg Haider, the right-wing Austrian populist, The London Times newspaper reported Thursday.
Mossad used Peter Sichrovsky, one of Haidar's closest aides, to gather information on his contacts with Arab dictators. Sichrovsky said he had been a Mossad informant for five years until retiring from politics in 2002.
"I wanted to help Israel and certainly did not do anything wrong," said Sichrovsky, who was secretary-general of Haider's Freedom Party and a member of the European Parliament.
The Austrian state prosecutor said Wednesday he would open an investigation to determine whether Sichrovsky should be prosecuted. Spying for a foreign power carries in Austria a jail sentence of up to three years.
The revelations, in the news weekly Profil, stunned the Austrian political class. The Jewish community had regarded Sichrovsky as a traitor, while anti-Semitic Freedom Party activists made no secret of their distrust.
The Freedom Party became a member of Austria's governing coalition in 1999, prompting a diplomatic boycott by the European Union. Haider had publicly praised the SS and Hitler's employment policies. Israel withdrew its ambassador.