A bombshell report has sent shock waves through Israeli government and media as it’s been revealed that a former high ranking government official has been arrested on charges of spying for Iran, allegedly giving Israel’s chief regional foe classified information on the locations of security centers and the country’s energy industry.
Gonen Segev served as Israeli Minister of Energy and Infrastructure (now called the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources) at the end of PM Yitzhak Rabin’s government (who was assassinated) and at the start Shimon Peres’ term as prime minister, and is well-known for having cast a key vote for the Oslo Accords in Israeli parliament.
After his political career, however, Segev had frequent legal troubles leading to jail time for charges of drug smuggling, forgery, and electronic commerce fraud, and lived in Nigeria in recent years. This included a prior 5-year stint in prison (2005-2010) for attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy (MDMA) tablets from the Netherlands into Israel.
Israel’s domestic national intelligence service, Shin Bet, announced Monday that Segev was extradited to Israel from Guinea after being monitored by Israeli intelligence on suspicion of maintaining contacts with Iranian intelligence officials. He is alleged to have met Iranian agents in foreign capitals, including in Nigeria, to pass along sensitive information related to Israel’s security infrastructure and systems.
The charges, according to multiple Israeli media reports, include “assisting the enemy in a time of war and spying against the State of Israel.”
Shin Bet issued an official statement, indicating “Segev gave his operators information about [Israel’s] energy sector, about security locations in Israel, and about buildings and officials in diplomatic and security bodies, and more.”
Though most of the case information has been marked “confidential at the request of the state” according to a statement by Segev’s attorneys, Israel’s English language Arutz Sheva national news reports the following details of the case:
An investigation by the Shin Bet and the police found that Segev was recruited and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence, and that in 2012 a connection was established between Segev and elements of the Iranian embassy in Nigeria. He later came twice to meetings with his operators in Iran.
The investigation revealed that Segev met with his Iranian operators around the world, in hotels and apartments which are believed to be used for secret Iranian activity. Segev also received a secret communications system to encrypt the messages between him and his operators.
The investigation also revealed that Segev gave his operators information related to the energy market, security sites in Israel, buildings and officials in Israeli political and security bodies, and more.
Segev is also alleged to have tried to serve as a mediator between his Iranian handlers and Israeli citizens working in sensitive posts related to Israel’s security and foreign relations. In some instances, according to Israeli media reports, Iranian foreign agents would be presented as “business contacts” when being presented to Israeli citizens abroad.
Further details of the case have been slow to come out, however, as the Jerusalem District Court has issued a gag order on other details at the request of the General Security Service and the Israel Police, due to issues of intelligence and national security.
Israel has long claimed that Iranian intelligence operatives are highly active in Africa. In January Israel said it had disrupted a Palestinian militant cell which had been operating under the direction of Iranian intelligence unit based on South Africa, according to Reuters.
Though treason can theoretically bring the highest punishment of execution under Israeli law, the country has only ever put to death an Israeli citizen one time in its history.
Meanwhile in Iran…
Hashtag #FreeGonenSegev becomes a trend among Iranian users on #socialmedia after former Israeli minister Gonen Segev accused of spying for #Iran. pic.twitter.com/LjP36afA7l
— raz zimmt (@RZimmt) June 18, 2018
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