Former Israeli cabinet minister Gonen Segev is to be jailed for 11 years after he admitted spying for Iran, Israel’s justice ministry says, BBC informs. Segev, who served as energy minister in the 1990s, was allegedly recruited while working as a doctor in Nigeria.
Segev was accused of leaking details about Israeli officials and security sites. He was detained in Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited to Israel, pleading guilty to serious espionage as part of a deal with prosecutors. The 63-year-old will be formally sentenced at a hearing on 11 February.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service initially said Segev met with his operators twice in Iran, and also met with Iranian agents in hotels and apartments around the world. A gag order was placed on most of the details, ABC News reports.
In August, Iran’s intelligence minister boasted on state television about his country’s successful recruitment of a former Cabinet-level official from a “hostile” country, though he did not mention Israel or Segev by name.
Segev’s lawyers, Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor, said they were still prohibited from discussing the full details of the case but that the plea bargain removed the initial charge of treason and brought the affair back to its proper proportions.
“Indeed, Mr. Segev did have contact with the Iranians but his motive was not to ‘aid an enemy during war’,” they said in a statement Wednesday.
Segev was previously arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 illegal Ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands to Israel using an expired diplomatic passport, and served prison time for that. A former doctor whose medical license was revoked, Segev was released from prison in Israel in 2007 and had been living in Africa in recent years.
Ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when religious hardliners came to power, Iran’s leaders have called for Israel’s elimination. Iran rejects Israel’s right to exist, considering it an illegitimate occupier of Muslim land.