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Israeli ex-minister who spied for Iran sentenced to 11 years

Court hearings in Jerusalem held in secret with charge of treason against Gonen Segev dropped as part of a plea deal
Prosecutor Geula Cohen said Gonen Segev, centre, had admitted giving information to the Iranians for five years

A former Israeli minister was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Tuesday for spying on behalf of Iran.

Gonen Segev, who served as energy and infrastructure minister from 1995 to 1996, had previously agreed to a plea bargain on charges of serious espionage and transfer of information to the enemy.

Court hearings were held in secret due to the nature of the case.

Prosecutor Geula Cohen confirmed to journalists outside the Jerusalem district court that the judge had accepted the plea bargain and issued the sentence.

"He admitted having given information to the Iranians over five years," Cohen said.

"The agreement is aimed at protecting security sources and keeping information confidential. A longer trial would not have allowed all the information to be kept secret."

She added that "an Israeli who spied for Iran in Africa and who ends up in prison in Israel is an important victory".

Segev's lawyer Moshe Mazor told journalists that his client had expressed regret for his actions, the AFP news agency reported.

"We think that the verdict conforms with his actions and has not been lightened as much as some have written," Mazor said.

His lawyers had previously said that a charge of treason had been dropped as part of the deal.

Defendant smuggled 30,000 ecstasy pills

Segev has previously served prison time on criminal charges.

In 2004, he was charged with trying to smuggle 30,000 ecstasy pills into Israel from the Netherlands using a diplomatic passport with a falsified expiry date.

The following year, he admitted the charges as part of a plea bargain.

He has also been convicted of attempted credit card fraud.

Former Israeli minister convicted of spying for Iran given 11 years in plea deal
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Segev's motives in the Iran spying case were not made clear and many details of the case have been kept secret.

The Shin Bet domestic security service previously accused him of providing Iran with "information related to the energy market, security sites in Israel, buildings and officials in political and security bodies, and more".

The crimes occurred while he was living in Nigeria between 2012 and his arrest at Israel's Ben Gurion airport in May 2018, according to the Shin Bet.

It said Segev had been in contact with Iranian embassy officials in Nigeria and he later visited the country for meetings with his intelligence handlers.

Israeli media have reported that after his arrest he claimed to have wanted to act as a double-agent to help Israel.

The 63-year-old served in the Labour government of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin after defecting from the far right to cast the decisive vote in favour of the Oslo II peace agreement with the Palestinians.

He was also part of Shimon Peres's government after Rabin's assassination.