Israeli who spied for Iran gets 4 years in jail

Man admits to giving Iranian consulate in Istanbul information on Israeli security forces.

iran israeli spy 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
iran israeli spy 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday morning sentenced a 55-year-old Israeli to four years of imprisonment on charges of spying for Iran. The man, whose identity was held due to a court-imposed gag order, was convicted in a plea bargain in February on charges of contacting a foreign agent, relaying information to the enemy and fraudulently obtaining goods. The Iranian-born man was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on May 8, 2008 by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police's Serious and International Crimes Unit. Police said the suspect, who reportedly lives abroad, told his interrogators that he visited the Iranian consulate regularly in Istanbul. "The suspect agreed to cooperate with Iranian intelligence officials. He gave them names of people he knew and claimed they were working for Israeli security forces," police said. The suspect was formally charged in May 2008 with agreeing to cooperate with Iranian intelligence and having divulged details about Israeli security system employees. The Tel Aviv District Court agreed to a request by the district attorney to hold a trial behind closed doors. According to Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, Iran is deeply concerned by the prospect of an Israeli military strike on its nuclear sites and is employing all possible means to glean information on Israel. "Without question, we are the primary target of Iran's spying efforts. They're scared of an Israeli operation," Kam said. "The Iranians also try to use Arab Israelis and Palestinians, who are their preferred channel. They are also using Hizbullah and Hamas to eavesdrop." Ra'anan Gissin, a strategic analyst who was previously a spokesman for former prime minister Ariel Sharon, said that "Israel has turned into the No. 1 intelligence target for Iran because we are the main obstacle to Iranian dominance in the Middle East." He added that "they follow Israel very closely. Having a man on the ground can help them keep track of the general level of alertness here, and to hold evaluations of possible Israeli responses." Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.