A former Israeli government minister has been arrested on charges of spying for Iran.
Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, said that Gonen Segev was extradited from Guinea and arrested upon his arrival in Israel last month, the Associated Press reported.
He is suspected of “committing offenses of assisting the enemy in war and spying against the state of Israel.”
Segev reportedly acted on behalf of Iranian intelligence to relay information “connected to the energy market and security sites in Israel, including buildings and officials in political and security organizations.”
Segev formerly served as energy and infrastructure minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s.
He was arrested in 2004 for trying to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands to Israel, and forging the date on his expired diplomatic passport. After his release in 2007, he was found to be living in Africa.
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Segev reportedly first met with operators of the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria in 2012, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The Shin Bet revealed that Segev met with operators twice in Iran, and held meetings around the world with Iranian agents. He was provided with a “secret communications system to encrypt messages” with his operators.
Segev maintained contact with Israeli citizens with ties to security and foreign relations. He set up meetings between them and Iranian agents, whom he introduced as businessmen.
Segev formerly served in the Israeli Air Force as a pilot in the 1970s. After his military service, he then went on to study medicine and become a doctor. His medical license was revoked in Israel shortly before his 2007 prison release.
Segev worked as a doctor for Israeli diplomats in Abuja, Nigeria, and treated a local Jewish community. He was credited with saving the life of an Israeli security guard.
In 2016, he requested a pardon from the Health Minister, Ya’acov Litzman, so he could return to Israel and practice as a doctor. His request was denied.
He told Israel’s Channel 2 News: “I’ve decided I’m not coming back to Israel unless I can return with my head held high as ‘Dr. Gonen Segev’ with a permit to work… not as ‘the former convict Gonen Segev,'” The Times of Israel reported.
Segev added that he served his time in prison and in exile, deeming “it’s enough.”
He then asked, “Isn’t the public satisfied?” By then, however, Segev was reportedly already conspiring with Iranian handlers and committing espionage.
Israeli officials are not yet sure of potential damage caused to Israel by his acts.
Segev’s motive has also not yet been confirmed, although during interrogations, Segev claimed he wanted to fool the Iranians and be hailed by Israel as a hero, according to Israel National News.
Last week, an indictment was filed against Segev. A gag order was placed on the case, and no further details have been released.