Israeli man arrested for travel to Iran

Moshe Suleimani was questioned by Iranian intel agents and prevented from leaving for three months.

teheran 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
teheran 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Israeli national was served with an indictment on Monday at the Beersheba Magistrate's Court after being arrested by police for visiting Iran. Iran has been declared an enemy state and Israeli law forbids citizens from visiting the country. During his stay there, the man was subjected to repeated attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to extract sensitive information on Israel. Detectives from the Security Offenses Department of the National Serious and International Crimes (NSIC) Unit, and the police's Lahav 433 Unit, had managed what they described as a "complex and sensitive investigation" into the travels of Moshe (Majid) Suleimani, of Ashdod. Police say Suleimani was warned against traveling to the Islamic Republic before embarking on his journey in April 2008, but that he had ignored the warning. He was arrested upon his return in August 2008 and told police in Israel of the interrogations he underwent at the hands of Iranian government agents within the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence in Teheran. Suleimani was asked questions relating to the IDF, the State of Israel and personal facts about his relatives. The agents had confiscated Suleimani's Israeli passport and prevented him from leaving the country for three months. Back in Israel, officers had confiscated Suliemani's Israeli and Iranian passports, and police banned him from leaving the country. "From joint interrogations carried out with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the NSIC has assembled a dire picture of Iranian intelligence agents intensively attempting to extract information from Israeli citizens who visit Iran," police said following the indictment. "This mostly occurs within Iranian consulates spread out all over the world," police added. David Motai, Spokesman for the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that had Suleimani actually possessed any sensitive security information, "he would not be back in Israel today." Motai has routinely called for members of Israel's 250,000-strong Iranian community to refrain from breaking the law and visiting the Islamic Republic. "The Iranians are always looking for people from Israel who want to visit their families in their former homeland. These are simple people who want to see family or visit the grave of a loved one, and they are exploited by the Iranians even though they have no intelligence or sensitive information," Motai said. "Israelis must not visit any enemy state. Anyone who does so is breaking the law and they subject themselves to the consequences," he added. Motai said that the Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency have stressed the dangers to Israelis of Persian descent repeatedly, "but some still take the risk and go." "This fellow was lucky that he is under arrest here in Israel. Here, unlike in Iran, he won't be tortured. He's lucky he's in Jewish hands, rather than the hands of Arab or Muslim agents who thirst for Jewish blood," Motai said. Motai added that Iranian intelligence is a powerful global force with tentacles in many countries. "Israelis who set out for Iran go to the Iranian consulate in Turkey for a visa. When they receive the visa, the Iranians know in advance who they are and where they are going. When they land in Teheran they are arrested or have their passports confiscated. Their families could be arrested. They can be tortured. If they have no information, the authorities will demand ransom. If they do have information, they won't come back to Israel." A number of Israeli-born Iranian Jews have disappeared in Iran over the years, Motai noted. "My message to Israeli-Iranians is do not visit Iran," Motai said.