Former Israeli Minister Gonen Segev has been arrested by the Shin Bet, and charged with spying for archenemy Iran.
The Shin Bet said Segev was extradited from Guinea and arrested upon arrival in Israel last month on suspicion of “committing offenses of assisting the enemy in war and spying against the state of Israel.”
It said Segev, a former energy minister, acted as an agent for Iranian intelligence and relayed information “connected to the energy market and security sites in Israel including buildings and officials in political and security organizations.”
Segev, who served in the Cabinet under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s, was arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands to Israel using an expired diplomatic passport. Segev, a former doctor whose medical license was revoked, was released from prison in 2007.
Segev had been living in Nigeria in recent years, went to Guinea in May 2018. He was transferred to Israel at the request of the Israel Police after Guinea refused him entry due to his criminal record.
The Shin Bet said Segev met with his operators twice in Iran, and also met with Iranian agents in hotels and apartments around the world. Segev was given a “secret communications system to encrypt messages” with his operators.
The statement said that Segev maintained connections with Israeli civilians who had ties to the country’s security and foreign relations. It said he acted to connect them with Iranian agents who posed as businessmen.
The inducement was filed in Jerusalem District Court on Friday June 15, and approved by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan.
Israel and Iran are bitter enemies, and the allegations against Segev are extremely grave. Israel considers Iran to be its biggest threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, Iran’s support for hostile militant groups like Hezbollah and its development of long-range missiles.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the international nuclear deal with Iran and welcomed the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal. More recently, Israeli forces have carried out a number of airstrikes on Iranian forces in neighboring Syria.
It is unclear what motivated Segev, whether it was out of monetary or idealistic reasons. It is also not immediately known how much damage, if any, he caused Israel.
A gag order was imposed on the case and there were no further details.
Shin Bet press release:
The Shin Bet has learned contact had been made in 2012 between Segev and elements from the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria, and that Segev had subsequently twice visited Iran to meet with his handlers in full knowledge that they were Iranian intelligence operatives.
Segev also met with his Iranian handlers in various hotels and apartments around the world which he assumed were used for covert activity. Segev even received secret communications equipment for encoding messages between him and his handlers.
Segev transferred to his handlers information on – inter alia – the energy economy, security sites in Israel, and diplomatic and security personnel and buildings.
In order to perform the missions that he had been assigned by his handlers, Segev maintained contacts with Israeli citizens in the foreign affairs and security fields. Segev worked to put some of these Israeli citizens in contact with Iranian intelligence agents by misleading the former and presenting the latter as innocent Iranian businessmen.
At the request of the Shin Bet and the Israel Police, the court agreed to allow publication of the foregoing. All other details regarding the case are subject to a gag order.
He also received an encrypted communications system to conceal the exchange of messages between him and his handlers.
Segev has previously been jailed for drug smuggling.
He was elected to the Knesset in 1992, at the age of just 35, as part of Rafi Eitan’s now defunct Tzomet party.
He famously split from that party in 1994 and joined the short-lived Yiud faction along with two other Tzomet MKs. His vote was critical in passing the Oslo Accords in the Israeli parliament.
In 1995-1996, Segev headed the National Infrastructure Ministry (now known as the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy, and Water Resources), before quitting politics.
Segev then became a businessman, and was arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy (MDMA) tablets from the Netherlands into Israel. He also illegally extended his diplomatic license and committed several offenses involving use of credit cards.
The former minister was convicted in 2005 of drug smuggling, forgery and fraud. He received a five-year prison sentence as well as a $27,500 fine. He was released from prison in 2007 after a third of his sentence was cut due to satisfactory behavior in jail.
(AP / YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)