Gonen Segev (R) and the Iranian flag.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS AND KNESSET)
Former government minister Gonen Segev has been charged with spying for Iran, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency announced on Monday.
The former energy and infrastructure minister – who also spent time in jail for drug smuggling, forgery and fraud – was arrested on suspicion of assisting the enemy in a time of war, spying against the State of Israel and providing intelligence to the enemy.
An indictment was filed in the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office on June 15 and approved by the attorney-general and the state attorney.
Segev is suspected of providing his Iranian handlers with intelligence related to, among other things, Israel’s energy industry, security sites, buildings and officials in Israeli political and security bodies.
According to the Shin Bet, Segev arrived for a visit in May to Equatorial Guinea, where he was refused entry to the country due to his criminal past.
Security authorities had gathered intelligence indicating that Segev was maintaining contacts with Iranian intelligence and assisting them in their activities against the State of Israel. The Israel Police subsequently requested his extradition to Israel, where he was immediately arrested upon his arrival for questioning by the Shin Bet.
The investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police found that Segev was recruited and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence. In 2012, Segev first met with elements of the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria
, knowing they were from Iranian intelligence, and later traveled twice to Iran to meet with his handlers.
The investigation also found that Segev, who received a secret communications system to encrypt messages between himself and his Iranian handlers, met with them in various countries, in hotels and apartments used for clandestine Iranian activity.
In order to accomplish the tasks he received from his handlers, Segev maintained ties with Israeli citizens who are related to Israel’s security and foreign relations spheres. According to the Shin Bet, Segev tried to connect some of the Israelis to Iranian intelligence, all the while trying to fool them and present the Iranians as innocent businessmen.
At the request of the Shin Bet and the Israel Police, a gag order has been imposed on other details of the case.
Attorneys Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor of Goldfarb Seligman, representing the former minister, said they have been accompanying him since his arrival in Israel about a month ago, confirming that an indictment against their client was recently filed.
“Most of the details are confidential at the request of the state. Even at this early stage, it is possible to say that the publication that was permitted makes things even more difficult, even though from the indictment – whose full details remain confidential – a different picture emerges.”
Segev was born in Israel in 1956 and served as a military pilot in the Israeli Air Force in the 1970s, reaching the rank of captain. Following his service, he studied medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and became a medical doctor.
He was elected to the Knesset in 1992 as part of the now-defunct, hawkish opposition Tzomet Party and was lured to join Yitzhak Rabin’s government as energy minister in 1994 before he quit politics.
He was arrested and convicted for drug smuggling and credit card fraud in 2005 after attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy (MDMA) tablets from the Netherlands into Israel. He was released in 2007 after serving two years of a five-year sentence. Segev, who said he thought the tablets were M&Ms, moved to Nigeria where he practiced medicine after his license was revoked in Israel.
In 2016, Segev requested that Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman pardon him so he could move back to Israel and return to his practice as a doctor; his request was denied.