Former Israeli Cabinet Minister Charged With Spying for Iran

(Bloomberg) -- A former Israeli cabinet minister with a checkered history of attempted drug smuggling and credit-card fraud has been charged with spying for Iran.

Gonen Segev, who served as energy and infrastructure minister more than two decades ago, was arrested in May and charged last Friday with espionage and aiding the enemy in wartime, the Shin Bet internal security service said Monday. He’s accused of providing Iran with information on Israel’s energy industry and security sites, as well as political and defense officials.

Most details of the indictment are under a gag order, Segev’s attorneys, Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor, said in response to the charges. The Shin Bet announcement “assigns the matters extreme severity while the indictment itself, whose details are under gag order, paint a different picture,” they said.

In recent years Segev lived in Nigeria, where he first made contact with the Iranian Embassy in 2012, according to the Shin Bet. The ex-minister met with his handlers twice in Iran and later in other countries, and they gave him a system for encrypting messages, the agency said.

Israel regards Iran as its bitterest enemy because of its nuclear work, its ballistic missile program and its support for other enemies of the Jewish state. Iranian officials have referred multiple times to Israel’s annihilation.

Segev, a native-born Israeli, was elected to parliament in 1992 and served as a minister from 1995 to 1996.

He practiced medicine before entering politics, but had his license revoked after being jailed for trying to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands, Israeli media reported. He was also convicted of credit card fraud for falsely claiming his card had gone missing, then using it to withdraw money, media reported.

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