Former minister admits spying for Iran

Former Government minister Gonen Segev signed a plea bargain with Israeli prosecutors yesterday after admitting he spied for Iran.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement that Segev would serve 11 years in prison as a result of the plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to “serious espionage offences and reporting to the enemy,”  including providing Iran with information about Israel’s energy industry, security facilities and political and military officials.

The Ministry imposed reporting restrictions on further details about the case and formal sentencing is expected on 11 February. Segev’s lawyer said the plea bargain: “Reflects the true proportion of this case”. He added that “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. That is why the treason charge was removed from the amended indictment.”

Segev was extradited from Equatorial Guinea in May 2018 and charged with spying for Iran. The Shin Bet security agency said Segev had been recruited by Iranian intelligence officers in 2012 by the Iranian embassy in Nigeria, where he had lived for 10 years practicing medicine. He travelled twice to Iran for meetings with his handlers, fully aware they worked for Iranian intelligence.

He was allegedly given a communications system to send coded messages. Segev was first elected in 1992 as a member of Parliament for the Tzomet party. In January 1995, Segev became the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in Yitzhak Rabin’s Government. In 2003 he was convicted of attempting to fraudulently obtain benefits and credit card fraud, after he withdrew cash and claimed his card was stolen.

In March 2005, he was given a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of trying to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy pills from the Netherlands to Israel using a diplomatic passport with a falsified expiry date. He was released in June 2007.