The decision to go public with the investigation against alleged Iranian spy Ali
Mansouri was made by highranking officials, a police officer said at a remand
hearing in Petah Tikva on Monday.
Asked by Mansouri’s attorney why he
requested the gag order be lifted on Sunday, the officer said he was told to
make the request and that he assumes the decision was by the head of the
international crimes department, the special investigations branch or “the
Typically, with secret service Shin Bet investigations
involving serious security crimes, a gag order is released only when the
investigation has been completed, in order to coincide with the issuing of the
The police representative would not confirm whether or not
there were other suspects in the case or people whom they suspect were recruited
by the 55-year-old Mansouri. He said only that the state needs 10 more days to
complete the investigation, while court-appointed attorney Michal Okaby proposed
allowing another three or four days. In the end, the court extended the remand
by eight days; it was the fourth time Mansouri’s remand had been extended since
his arrest on September 11.
Mansouri was quiet and appeared calm during
the hearing, leaning in to listen to an interpreter translate the hearing into
French. He didn’t make any statements, but at one point, when an Israeli
journalist waved and said “Shalom Ali” Mansouri responded “Shalom,” put his
hands together as if in prayer and nodded.
Okaby asked the officer
repeatedly why the case was reported so early on and why details of the
investigation were provided to the press by security services before related
evidence had been seen by Mansouri’s attorneys.
The officer said only
that he was instructed to do so and that he doesn’t have statistics on the
lifting of gag orders.
The officer refused to answer Okaby’s questions
relating to whether or not there is evidence linking him to the charges, such as
money transfers found in his email or bank account after, according to Okaby, he
gave access to the account to his interrogators.
The officer did say that
Mansouri submitted a DNA sample and confirmed that the keys to his apartment in
Belgium had been confiscated upon his arrest on September 11.
that Mansouri refused to submit to a polygraph test but that he cooperated under
Okaby spent a significant amount of time questioning the
officer about whether or not Mansouri was threatened that he would not be able
to meet again with the Belgian consulate or his attorneys if he refused to
cooperate with the investigation.
“The apocalyptic picture presented of
my client by the Shin Bet as someone who came here in order to carry out terror
attacks against Israel is very far from reality and is baseless.
it is still under investigation we are not able to comment on it, but what we
can say is that the picture here is far more complicated,” Okaby said after the
She pointed out to the officer that the specific charge of
“espionage” had been left off the remand-extension request, which the officer
said he forgot to include, although other security charges were on the
The Shin Bet announced Sunday that Mansouri was arrested while
trying to leave Israel on September 11, after he was sent to Israel to set up
what they referred to as a base for Iranian intelligence and terrorism networks.
Iran offered him $1 million in exchange for his activities, the secret service
According to the Shin Bet, Mansouri had been recruited by
Iran’s Quds Force, the extraterritorial unit that runs special operations,
terrorism and subversion operations for the Revolutionary Guards
The suspect was found with photographs of the US Embassy in Tel
Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport, as well as one of himself on the Tel Aviv
promenade, all of which were released to the press by the Shin
“During questioning, the suspect, Ali Mansouri, described entering
Israel under a Belgian identity using the alias Alex Mans, as well as his
recruitment and activation process by Iranian intelligence elements,” the Shin
The secret service agency said that Mansouri visited Israel
three times, and tried to forge links with Tel Aviv business owners, adding that
they suspect he was trying to build a business network as a front for the
Iranian intelligence and terror network.
According to the Shin Bet,
Mansouri was born in Iran in 1958, where he lived until 1980, after which he
moved to Turkey. In 1987 he moved to Belgium and got married, later receiving
citizenship and changing his name to Alex Mans.
The Shin Bet said that
over the years, he continued to travel between Belgium, Turkey, and Iran, and
drew the attention of Iranian intelligence recruiters, due to his international
His specialty was selling windows and roofing
solutions to stores and restaurants, and he tried signing supply contracts with
potential customers in Tel Aviv. He presented himself as a Belgian businessman
and would refer them to websites and Facebook accounts that documented his
An official traveling with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama in the US said Sunday
that the affair was further proof that Iran could not be trusted.
the Iranian president sweet-talks the West, the ayatollah’s Revolutionary Guards
continue in their attempts to hurt Western interests in the Middle East, as is
evidenced by the fact that the Iranian spy that was caught gathered intelligence
on the US Embassy in Israel,” the official said.