JERUSALEM (Reuters) - 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 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.
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 Segev, 62, put some Israelis involved in the security sector in contact with Iranian intelligence agents, introducing the Iranians as businessmen.
Segev’s attorneys put out a statement saying that most details from the indictment remained a secret, as requested by the state.
“Even at this early stage it can be said that the permitted publication attributes extreme gravity to the events, even though within the indictment, of which the full details remain confidential, a different picture is painted,” said the lawyers’ statement.
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 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.
Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Dan Williams, Ari Rabinovitch and Ori Lewis, Editing by William Maclean