An Iranian Jew was arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Friday on suspicion of spying for Iranian security forces, the agency announced.
The suspected spy, who has relatives in Israel, was detained upon landing here and admitted that he had come to gather intelligence and take photos for Iranian security officials.
Before coming to Israel, the suspect met with Iranian security officials and received a tissue box intended for the disposal of camera equipment, phones, mobile chargers, and money.
The suspect was told that he would receive addresses to monitor in Israel from his Iranian operator. After the investigation was completed, the Iranian Jew was refused entry to Israel and boarded a plane to head back to Iran.
“This event is part of a broad Iranian effort to establish espionage and terror axes in Israel, alongside the influence in the network to widen the social divide,” said the Shin Bet. “The Shin Bet, together with its partners in the security system, works all the time and will continue to work resolutely to detect and thwart Iran’s attempts to act against the State of Israel both in the face of terrorist activity and espionage and cyber.”
Last week the Shin Bet exposed a phishing campaign carried out by Iranian officials aimed at gathering intelligence about Israeli policies and citizens.
The campaign mainly targeted civil servants and researchers at research institutes using fake LinkedIn profiles impersonating known Israeli citizens. The officials invited the targeted citizens to a conference with a file containing malicious code giving them access to the targets’ computers.
The campaign was thwarted thanks to the awareness and vigilance of those targeted, along with actions by the Shin Bet and the Israeli security system.
Arrest comes days after Israelis acquitted on charges of spying for Iran
The arrest on Friday comes just a few days after two Israeli women and a man were acquitted in the Jerusalem District Court of passing information and involvement with an alleged Iranian spy who contacted them through Facebook and WhatsApp.
The accused were part of a group of five Israelis of Iranian extraction that had been arrested by the Shin Bet and police in January 2022 after allegedly being recruited by an Iranian agent known as Rambud Namdar to conduct intelligence-gathering missions within Israel.
All five were charged with contact with a foreign agent, and defendants No. 1 and 4 were charged with providing information that could benefit the enemy.
Judge Ilan Sela said punishments for espionage should have been reserved for those who had intended to spy out of ideological motives, not for those who had been tricked and had no intention of harming the state. Sela said the defendants were patriots and had not sought to contact a foreign agent.
Michael Starr contributed to this report.