Former Israeli lawmaker accused of spying for Iran, passing along sensitive information

A former Israeli lawmaker has been accused of spying for Iran after being caught passing sensitive information to sources in Tehran, including details about Israel’s energy sector and the identities of government officials, its Shin Bet security service announced Monday.

Gonen Segev, a physician who served as energy and infrastructure minister from 1992 to 1995, previously was jailed in 2005 for trying to smuggle more than 30,000 ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands and forging a diplomatic passport. He was released in 2007 but taken into custody again last month after returning to Israel.

In a statement, Shin Bet said the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office submitted charges against Segev on Friday accusing him of aiding an enemy country, spying against Israel, and passing multiple messages to an enemy.

Segev, who in recent years has resided in Nigeria, tried to move to Equatorial Guinea in May. The local police there ended up handing him over to Israel after refusing to admit him into the country based on his criminal record.

Segev was arrested upon arrival in Israel based on information gathered indicating that he may have been communicating with Iranian intelligence officials and assisting them in their activity against Israel. An investigation by Israel's internal security agency and the police discovered that Segev had been recruited by Iran and became an agent for its intelligence services, officials said.

Investigators found that the connection between Segev and sources in Iran's embassy in Nigeria was first formed in 2012, and he later met twice with his handlers in Iran. Segev passed information to his Iranian sources regarding Israel's energy sector, security sites in Israel, structures, and the identity of officials in the security and political establishments in Israel, among other things, Shin Bet said.

In order to obtain information, Segev maintained contact with Israeli citizens in the defense, security, and diplomatic sectors. Segev even tried to connect some of these Israeli citizens with Iranian sources, while claiming the Iranian sources were actually businesspeople. According to Gonen's lawyers, "the indictment paints a different picture than the Shin Bet statement."