Israel indicts ex-cabinet minister over alleged spying for Iran

Gonen Segev was energy minister from 1995 to 1996

Former Israeli energy minister Gonen Segev (C) appears at the Tel Aviv district tribunal 22 April 2004. Segev was remanded in custody after having been arrested on suspicion of attempted drug-trafficking. The court ordered that Segev remain in custody until April 28. Segev, who had served as a minister in the cabinet of the late Labour party prime minister Yitzak Rabin, is accused of trying to smuggle 25,000 ecastasy tablets from Holland by changing the date on an out-of-date diplomatic passport. AFP PHOTO/Yariv KATZ -- ISRAEL OUT / AFP PHOTO / YARIV KATZ

Israel has indicted a former cabinet minister on suspicion of spying for Iran, Israel's Shin Bet internal security service said on Monday.

In a statement, the Shin Bet said Gonen Segev, energy minister from 1995 to 1996, had been living in Nigeria and "was recruited by Iranian intelligence and served as an agent". Investigators found that Mr 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.

Mr 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 Shin Bet said Mr Segev, 62, put some Israelis involved in the security sector in contact with Iranian intelligence agents, introducing the Iranians as businessmen.

Mr Segev's attorneys, contacted by Reuters, declined immediate comment.

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Mr Segev, a physician, was jailed in Israel in 2004 after being convicted of attempting to smuggle Ecstasy pills into the country. He left Israel in 2007 after his release from prison.

The Shin Bet said Mr Segev was arrested during a visit to Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited to Israel, where he is being detained. He was indicted on Friday.

Israel has long been locked in a shadow war with arch-foe Iran, which supports Islamist guerrillas in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and whose nuclear program is widely believed to have been targeted repeatedly by Israeli saboteurs.

In January, Israel said it had cracked a Palestinian militant cell suspected of having been recruited and handled by Iranian intelligence officers who worked out of South Africa. The suspects’ lawyer denied the charges.

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