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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Israeli ex-minister pleads guilty to spying for Iran

News Desk |

An Israeli former cabinet minister admitting to spying for Iran on Wednesday in a plea deal in exchange for an 11-year prison sentence, the Israeli Justice Ministry said.

Gonen Segev, energy minister from 1995 to 1996, was indicted in June. The Shin Bet internal security service said at the time had been recruited by Iranian intelligence while living in Nigeria and had “served as an agent”.

Investigators found that Segev made contact with officials at the Iranian embassy in Nigeria in 2012 and that he visited Iran twice for meetings with his handlers, the Shin Bet said.

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Segev, it said, received an encrypted communications system from Iranian agents and supplied Iran with “information related to the energy sector, security sites in Israel and officials in political and security institutions”.

The court has yet to formally approve the prison sentence agreed with Segev, a physician, who had been jailed in 2004 for attempting to smuggle “Ecstasy” pills into Israel and left the country in 2007 after his release from prison.

He was arrested in May during a visit to Equatorial Guinea and extradited to Israel, Shin Bet said.

Israel and Iran are at loggerheads with both threatening each other with war. The tensions between the two Middle Eastern rivals have exacerbated since Iran took a direct part in Syrian civil war which saw it coming ever closer to the Israeli border.

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The latest fiasco involving espionage is set to strain ties between the two rivals more than ever before. Israel is well known for its intelligence and espionage apparatus which is considered best in the world. However, the arrest of Gonen Segev indicates that it is also prone to spy operations by other states.

Israel’s key ally in the Middle East, USA has suffered strategic setbacks in the region with Russia becoming a key stakeholder. The Russo-Iranian partnership against Sunni rebels and ISIS has brought these two states ever closer. This situation has made it difficult for Israel to attempt a direct strike against Iran. This, according to observers, is expected to push these two rivals to resort to clandestine operations more than ever before.