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Israeli ex-minister arrested for being Iranian agent, police say

Gonen Segev, once jailed for drugs smuggling, is said to have given Iran information on security sites, officials and the energy market
Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin speaks with former energy minister Gonen Segev during a conference in Jerusalem (Reuters)

Israel has arrested former energy minister Gonen Segev on suspicion of working as an Iranian agent, the Jewish state’s Shin Bet intelligence service announced on Monday.

Segev, 62, was arrested last month after being extradited from Equatorial Guinea “on suspicion of committing offences of assisting the enemy in war and spying against the state of Israel,” according to a police statement.

According to the police, an investigation found Segev made contact with the Iranian embassy in Nigeria, where he was living at the time.

He is then said to have travelled to Iran twice to meet with his handlers.

Once recruited, Segev began working as an Iranian agent, the police said.

'Segev met with his Iranian operators around the world in hotels and apartments used for secret Iranian activity'

- Police statement

“The investigation revealed that Segev met with his Iranian operators around the world in hotels and apartments used for secret Iranian activity,” the statement said.

“Segev received a secret communications system to encrypt messages between him and his operators.”

The former energy minister is said to have provided the Iranians with information on the Israeli energy market, as well as intelligence on security and political buildings and officials.

Through Segev, the police said, Israelis involved in security and foreign relations were introduced to Iranian intelligence officials posing as regular businessmen.

Israel and Iran are arch-foes, and tensions between the regional heavyweights have only been exacerbated in recent months as the Iranian military presence in Syria becomes heavier in areas bordering those of Israeli control.

Drugs smuggling, forgery, fraud

Segev fell into the Equatorial Guinea authorities’ hands as he attempted to enter the country in May from Nigeria, where he has been living in recent years working as a paediatrician.

The former minister was refused entry by Equatorial Guinea due to his criminal past – Segev was jailed in Israel in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy pills into the country from the Netherlands.

At the time, Segev told the police he believed the pills to be M&Ms.

The paediatrician was also picked up on forgery and fraud charges after illegally extending the date of his diplomatic passport using a pencil and being found guilty of several offences involving credit cards.

Convicted of drug smuggling, forgery and fraud, in 2005 Segev was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and fined $27,500. He was released in 2007 after his sentence was cut for good behaviour.

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