The Israel Police and Shin Bet security service are investigating a student employed by the Foreign Ministry over allegations that he illegally visited Iran. The suspect is also believed to have come into contact with Iranian intelligence agents during his trip.
The suspect — who was released from custody last month — visited Iran before he later filled a student position at the Foreign Ministry, The Times of Israel has learned.
“The issue was dealt with by the relevant Israeli authorities,” the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
The suspect’s lawyers said his trip was for tourism reasons and that he did not keep it a secret from his friends and family. It is currently illegal for Israeli citizens to visit Iran for any purposes.
“This affair has been blown out of proportion. The suspect is a normal young man,” his attorneys were quoted as saying by Channel 12 News. “As the court ruled, there is no real evidentiary basis for an offense of contact with a foreign agent. There is no reason for the security services to prevent the suspect from meeting his lawyers for 10 days.”
Further details of the investigation, including the suspect’s identity, are under a gag order.
According to Army Radio, the student in question is a Jewish man in his 20s, and he is not suspected of serious security crimes. The man was investigated in recent months after it was revealed that he visited Iran “for adventure-seeking purposes,” said Army Radio.
The suspect’s attorneys said they were confident that the case against him would be shelved, as have similar cases “against other Israeli citizens who visited enemy countries for tourism purposes and journalistic coverage.”
Convictions for 16 Druze sheikhs who visited Syria and Lebanon were canceled in 2014. However, a year later the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a former Druze member of Knesset who visited Syria and met with Talal Naji, the deputy director of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.