Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Israel ex-minister to get 11 years for spying for Iran

Israel ex-minister to get 11 years for spying for Iran

The director general for counter-espionage at the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said the premier's "delusional" comments were meant to ease "the most intense internal and foreign pressure" on him "due to leaks about an Israeli minister spying for Iran as well as the large-scale infiltration of the Zionist regime's intelligence services by those of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Former Israeli Minister of Energy Gonen Segev will serve 11 years in prison as part of a plea deal over spying for Iran, the country's Ministry of Justice said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, whose agents and proxies regularly conduct lethal operations against each other, but Segev's lawyers this week insisted that "his motive was not to aid an enemy during war".

Segev, who was extradited from Equatorial Guinea and arrested in May, was charged with providing Iran information about "energy market and security sites in Israel". He was first contacted by Iranian embassy officials in Nigeria in 2012, and at a later stage traveled to Iran twice for meetings with his handlers-while being fully aware they belonged to Iranian intelligence.

The 63-year-old will be formally sentenced at a hearing on 11 February.

The ministry said there was a gag order on further details.

He served as Minister of Energy and Infrastructure under prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres between 1995 and 1996.

Segev, through his attorneys, said he was trying to act as a double agent against Iran, in the hope of returning to the Jewish state as a hero.

He also had his licence to practice medicine revoked, but he was allowed to work as a doctor in Nigeria when he moved there after his release from jail in 2007. He worked to put the Israeli officials in contact with Iranian intelligence elements, while trying to deceive them and present the Iranians as innocuous businessmen.

Segev was elected to the 13th Israeli parliament (Knesset) in 1992.

Permission was later given to publish the fact that serious charges had been leveled against Segev.

At the time, Segev said he received a warning from the Shin Bet about the plot, claiming he didn't know why he was being targeted.

In March 2005, he was convicted of forgery and attempted drug smuggling in a plea deal and sentenced to five years in prison, two years of probation and a $27,500 fine.

He has also been convicted of attempted credit card fraud.

In 2004, he was arrested for attempting to smuggle thousands of ecstasy pills from Amsterdam to Israel.

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