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Former Israeli Energy Minister Charged With Spying For Iran

Former Israeli Energy Minister Gonen Segev (center) in a Tel Aviv district tribunal in April 2004

Israeli authorities have arrested a former cabinet minister once imprisoned for trying to smuggle drugs, this time on suspicion of spying for archfoe Iran, the country’s internal security service says.

The Shin Bet security service said in a June 18 statement that Gonen Segev was indicted on charges of "committing offenses of assisting the enemy in war and spying against the state of Israel."

Segev, who served as energy minister from 1995-96 under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle 32,000 chocolate-covered ecstasy pills from the Netherlands to Israel, using an expired diplomatic passport.

Segev, who was released from prison in 2007, had been living in Africa in recent years.

He was extradited from Equatorial Guinea and arrested upon arrival in Israel last month.

The Shin Bet said Segev was “recruited by Iranian intelligence and served as an agent," adding that he made contact with officials at the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria in 2012 and visited Iran twice for meetings with his handlers.

The former minister, 62, tried to connect Israeli citizens with ties to Israel's security and foreign relations sectors to Iranian agents posing as "innocent business officials," according to the statement.

Segev allegedly communicated with his operators through a "secret communications system to encrypt messages" and supplied Iran with "information related to the energy sector, security sites in Israel, and officials in political and security institutions."

In a statement, Segev's lawyers did not reject or accept the accusations but said that the indictment "portrays a different picture" than what Shin Bet said.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AP