Israeli ex-minister pleads guilty to spying for Iran

Gonen Segev. Credit Ancho Gosh-JINIPIX

Former Israeli Minister of Energy Gonen Segev will serve 11 years in prison as part of a plea deal over spying for Iran, the country's Ministry of Justice said in a statement Wednesday morning. He was suspected of providing information about Israel's energy industry, security sites, buildings and officials in political and security bodies to his Iranian handlers.

Shin Bet, Israel's security service, initially said Segev had met with his operators twice in Iran and with Iranian agents in hotels and apartments around the world.

"The district attorney's office wants to reveal more details about the affair, and once it's out, it will be clear that Segev indeed had contacts with Iranians, but not to aid them".

Segev was elected to parliament in 1992 and served as a minister from 1995 to 1996.

The former minister lived in Nigeria for almost 10 years, where he practiced medicine after his license was revoked in Israel.

The charge of assisting the enemy in wartime, listed in the original indictment, was removed as part of the agreement, and Segev confessed to reduced security-related offenses, Channel 10 news reported.

The Shin Bet said Segev had been in contact with Iranian embassy officials in Nigeria and later he visited the Islamic republic for meetings with his intelligence "handlers".

It is not believed classified information was given to Iran through Segev. It emerged then that he had tried to meet with veterans of the Israeli defense establishment, experts in fields such as security and infrastructure, and to lure them to do business in Nigeria.

Qais Hassan Kamal Obeid, an Israeli citizen from Taybeh who moved to Lebanon, tried to lure the Israelis to travel overseas by promising them easy money for criminal endeavors.

Segev was extradited from Equatorial Guinea in May 2018 and charged with spying for Iran, which is Israel's main adversary. He was given probation and was the choice between paying a NIS 50,000 fine or serving three months in prison. He has always been disgraced in Israel after being convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle 32,000 chocolate-covered ecstasy pills.

Segev was also charged with illegally extending his diplomatic passport with a pencil to avoid being subjected to a search by Dutch airport authorities.

In exchange, the ministry added, prosecutors would drop charges of aiding the enemy and sentence the former minister to 11 years in prison.

He was indicted in a Jerusalem court in June, but details were not immediately released.

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