Nahum Manbar, a businessman convicted of endangering national security by
selling components of chemical weapons to Israel’s foremost enemy, Iran, walked
out of prison on Monday after serving 14-and-a-half years of his 16- year prison
Manbar was convicted in 1998 following a trial that rocked the
country and saw then-Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit take the stand against him in a
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Before his arrest in 1997, Manbar attempted to deceive
the Mossad by presenting himself as a source of information to the intelligence
agency, Shavit told Israel Radio on Monday.
The parole board of the
Prisons Service approved the release after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
stated that he had no opposition to Manbar walking out of prison. He said Manbar
was no longer a public threat.
Manbar, 65, was originally convicted by
the Tel Aviv District Court on charges of aiding the enemy and harming state
security, and passing information to the enemy with the intent of harming
national security – crimes that carry a maximum penalty of life
Manbar, originally from Kibbutz Givat Haim, was indicted
following a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad investigation that
began after he had been barred from entering the US on charges of selling
chemical weapons components to Tehran.
According to the original
indictment, in 1990, Manbar used an Iranian intermediary, Barry Hashemi, to
contact Majid Abbaspour, formerly Iran’s chief security adviser and head of
Tehran’s chemical weapons project.
The indictment charged that Manbar
signed an agreement between his company and Iran’s Ministry of Defense Special
Industries Group to deliver mustard and nerve gas components, and also to
provide information about equipment to manufacture three types of nerve gas,
In late 2000, the Supreme Court denied Manbar’s appeal
against his conviction.
Two further appeals to the Jerusalem District
Court in 2007 and 2008 against the state’s refusal to grant him early release
were also turned down.
On Monday, the attorney-general said the state no
longer opposes Manbar’s release, because of the short time remaining until the
end of his sentence.
However, according to a release-conditions agreement
between Manbar’s lawyer, Amnon Zichroni, and the state attorney’s office, Manbar
is barred from leaving Israel, from having any contact with foreign nationals
and from media interviews.