Former Israeli minister goes on trial for spying for Iran

Gonen Segev accused of supplying Tehran data on Israel’s energy and security network

Gonen Segev is escorted by prison guards as he arrives at court in Jerusalem. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/EPA

The trial has begun in Jerusalem of former Israeli minister Gonen Segev, who is accused of spying for Iran and providing information on Israeli bases and officials.

The indictment, presented on Thursday in the Jerusalem district court, alleges that intelligence officials from Israel’s arch-enemy Iran recruited Mr Segev, a former energy minister, in 2012.

He is accused of providing the Iranians with information about Israel’s energy infrastructure, the locations of bases and security installations and the names of his acquaintances in Israel’s security sector.

Mr Segev (62) is accused of aiding the enemy during a time of war, spying and transferring dozens of documents of secret information to the enemy.

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A gagging order remains in place but the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) released information alleging that Mr Segev made contact with officials from the Iranian embassy in Nigeria in 2012 and met with his Iranian handlers in Iran and at various locations around the world.

Mr Segev's attorney, Moshe Mazor, said the defence team was still waiting to receive some of the classified information.

Investigative material

“The trial has just got started and we haven’t yet received all of the investigative material in the case,” said Mr Mazor. “The allegations will be heard before a panel of judges, and we believe and hope that by the end of the proceedings, this affair will regain its natural dimensions and its proper proportions.”

Geula Cohen, a lawyer for the state, said more details will be released in time but the public will not know everything.

“The public cannot be exposed, due to security concerns, to all of the particulars about what’s happening in the case. We will make an effort, to the extent possible, to divulge as many details as possible, as we have done to this day.”

Mr Segev, a qualified doctor, is no stranger to scandal. He was a Knesset member for the right-wing Tsomet party and served as energy and infrastructure minister from 1992 to 1995. He was condemned by the Israeli right after he split from Tsomet to join the coalition headed by centre-left prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, enabling the passing of the historic Oslo peace agreement with the Palestinians in the Knesset.

Physician in Nigeria

In 2005 he was jailed for five years for smuggling ecstasy tablets into Israel and forging a diplomatic passport. He also had his medical licence revoked, but he was allowed to work as a physician in Nigeria when he moved there after his release from prison in 2007.

Israel considers Iran, which openly calls for Israel’s destruction, as an existential threat and maintains that it will not allow Tehran acquire a nuclear bomb.

Mr Segev did not deny his contacts with Iranian officials, but claimed he was acting as a double agent in the hope of restoring his tarnished reputation and returning to Israel as a hero.

Mr Segev’s recruitment marked a major achievement for Iranian intelligence but it remains to be seen how much real damage he caused.