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.
According to the statement, Segev tried to fool Israelis with connections to fields of interest to the Iranians into meeting with intelligence agents whom he presented as businessmen.
Segev was arrested upon arrival in Israel based on information gathered indicating that he may have been communicating with Iranian intelligence officials and assisting them in their activity against Israel. It was also learned that contact had been made in 2012 between Segev and elements from the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria, and that Segev had subsequently twice visited Iran to meet with his handlers in full knowledge that they were Iranian intelligence operatives. Segev was given a secret communications system to encode the messages between him and his operators.
In order to perform the missions that he had been assigned by his handlers, Segev maintained contacts with Israeli citizens in the foreign affairs and security fields.
The police statement released said that there was still a "gag order on further details of the case", though additional details have surfaced, including Segev's statement from the police interrogation that he "was trying to help the state". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accused Iran of seeking to build an atomic bomb despite a six-power accord quit by US President Donald Trump.
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Lawyers representing Segev issued a statement that did not reject or accept the accusations, only saying that the indictment "portrays a different picture" than what the Shin Bet says. Its particulars are mostly confidential at the state's request. Following his service, he studied medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and became a medical doctor.
Segev, a physician, was jailed in Israel in 2004 after being convicted of attempting to smuggle Ecstasy pills into the country.
He was released from prison in 2007, before moving to west Africa.
In 1994, following disagreements within Tzomet, Segev, Alex Goldfarb, and Esther Salmovitz left Tzomet and founded a new faction, in return for which Segev was appointed Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in Rabin's government.