Former Israeli minister convicted of spying for Iran

Former Israeli minister Gonen Segev has admitted to spying for Iran as part of a plea deal in exchange for an 11-year prison sentence, the Justice Ministry has said.

The ministry on Wednesday said Gonen Segev reached a plea bargain after confessing to severe espionage and passing information to an enemy country.

The Jerusalem District Court set a sentencing hearing for February 11.

Segev, energy minister from 1995 to 1996, was indicted in June. The Shin Bet internal security service said at the time that he was recruited by Iranian intelligence while living in Nigeria.

The trial of Segev opened in July but was held behind closed doors, with few details of the accusations publicly released.

Investigators found that Segev made contact with officials at the Iranian embassy in Nigeria in 2012 and that he visited Iran twice for meetings with his handlers, the Shin Bet said.

Segev, who was extradited from Equatorial Guinea and arrested in May, was charged with providing Iran information about “energy market and security sites in Israel”.

The ministry said there was a gag order on further details.

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“Segev was drafted and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence. The investigation showed that in 2012, a connection was established between Segev and officials from the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria. Subsequently, he twice attended meetings in Iran with his handlers while their identity as intelligence officials was known to him,” the statement by the Shin Bet said.

“The investigation revealed that Segev met with his Iranian handlers across the world in hotels and apartments that he assumed were used for clandestine activities,” it continued.

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During the investigation, it goes on, “it became apparent that Segev transferred to his handlers information related to the energy sector, to security sites in Israel, to buildings, to people carrying out roles in the diplomatic and security bodies.

“In order to complete the assignments he received from his Iranian handlers, Segev made contact with Israeli citizens in the security domain and Israel’s foreign diplomatic circles. Segev worked to connect some of the Israeli citizens with Iranian intelligence officials while trying to fool them and present them as innocent businessmen,” the statement accuses the defendant.

Segev, a physician, was jailed in 2004 for attempting to smuggle “Ecstasy” pills into Israel and left the country in 2007 after his release from prison.