Former Israeli minister sentenced to 11 years in Iran spying case

Under terms of plea bargain, Gonen Segev confessed to reduced espionage charges, was not accused of assisting an enemy state during wartime

Former energy minister Gonen Segev seen at the Jerusalem District Court for sentencing in an Iran spying case, February 26, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former energy minister Gonen Segev seen at the Jerusalem District Court for sentencing in an Iran spying case, February 26, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A former Israeli minister-turned-spy for Iran was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison as part of a plea bargain negotiated with prosecutors.

The sentence was handed down by the Jerusalem District Court, which had approved the deal that saw Gonen Segev convicted of serious espionage offenses and giving information to an enemy.

Segev was convicted of meeting with Iranian intelligence officials repeatedly over the past six years and supplying them with information.

A more serious charge of assisting the enemy in wartime, listed in the original indictment, was removed as part of the agreement, and Segev confessed to reduced security-related offenses.

Gonen Segev, a former Israeli government minister indicted on suspicion of spying for Iran, in the District Court in Jerusalem, July 5, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP)

Segev was arrested in May of last year and extradited from Equatorial Guinea to Israel. He had been living in Nigeria since being released from an Israeli prison on a drug smuggling rap in 2007.

He was indicted in a Jerusalem court in June. In July, prosecutors released the full indictment, though many details of the charges against him were redacted.

Permission was later given to publish the fact that serious charges had been leveled against Segev. It emerged then that he had tried to meet with veterans of the Israeli defense establishment, experts in fields such as security and infrastructure, and to lure them to do business in Nigeria.

In coordination with the Iranians, he allegedly offered them the chance to meet with individuals closely connected to Nigerian authorities, who were in fact people from Iran, according to media reports.

Israelis who smelled a rat reported their discomfort to the Israeli security services, and thus began the trail that led to Segev’s arrest.

Gonen Segev seen at the Jerusalem District Court on July 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to the heavily redacted indictment, he allegedly met with Iranian intelligence officials repeatedly over the previous six years, including twice in Tehran, having traveled to the Islamic Republic on a non-Israeli passport, according to the Shin Bet security service.

In addition to supplying the Iranians with information, the prosecution also said that Segev “carried out various missions when he was asked.” The details of those “missions” were redacted.

The charge sheet said: “The defendant gave the Iranians secret information with the intention of harming state security. Among other things, the information included the location of security installations, the names of security personnel, and more. The accused also gave the Iranians dozens of pieces of information in order to harm state security.”

Segev, through his attorneys, claimed at the time that he was trying to act as a double agent against Iran, in the hope of returning to the Jewish state as a hero.

Judah Ari Gross and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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