An advisor to the 2016 Trump campaign who was arrested and convicted as part of the Mueller investigation into allegations of collusion with the Russian government says he was targeted by the investigation for his support for Israel, including his work challenging the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.

George Papadopoulos, the 31-year-old consultant who worked as a policy advisor for President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, said in an interview with the One America News Network Wednesday that he came into the Mueller investigation’s sights not because of any allegations of collusion with the Russian government, but rather because of his support for Israel.

“The targeting on me had to do with my ties to Israel, not to Russia,” said Papadopoulos, who claimed that he had been targeted over his support for Israel, and opposition to the Obama administration’s Middle East policies, even before the Mueller investigation was launched.

“I was working at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., where we were promoting an agenda, it was a conservative think tank at a time when the Obama administration was in power, we were promoting an agenda that was anathema to what the Obama administration wanted done, in terms of U.S. security and U.S. energy policy in that part of the world.”

“There are many various U.S. State Department officials who are coming into my life to threaten me. Why are you working on these deals? Why are you at this conference? You shouldn't be advising the president or the candidate about your particular ideas…What are you up to in the Middle East? How do you have these contacts? And what are you advising the campaign about?”

While Papadopoulos ended up pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI in 2017, resulting in a 14-day prison term and $9,500 fine, the former Trump campaign advisor says the Mueller investigation had sought to charge him with acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign country, citing his pro-Israel positions.

“They wanted to charge me for acting as an unregistered agent of Israel. I just happened to be an advisor to two presidential campaigns who had extremely high connections not only in Israel, but in that part of the world.”

In March, Papadopoulos also denied having any contacts with Russian officials – despite allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia being at the heart of the Mueller investigation.

“I never met a single Russian official in my entire life. Even on the Trump campaign. All the characters in my story that were described falsely by the FBI and Bob Mueller to be Russians were, in fact, Western intelligence operatives that were sent to try to sabotage the Trump campaign.”

He said that the real reason he was targeted was for his connections with Israel.

Papadopoulus wrote op-eds for Arutz Sheva in that vein several years ago,suggesting that Cyprus should be conceptualized by Israel and the West in a fashion similar to Azerbaijan's cooperation, analyzing decisions Israel could make on how to optimize exporting gas to Europe from the Leviathan field and proposing that U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus enhance cooperation..

“That’s actually the key of my case. What I was really targeted for by the Mueller team and these individuals had nothing to do with Russia. It had to do with my work in Israel, my work as an energy lobbyist.”