Former Israeli cabinet minister sentenced to 11 years in prison for espionage

Former Israeli minister Gonen Segev center arrives at court in Jerusalem

The director general for counter-espionage at the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said the premier's "delusional" comments were meant to ease "the most intense internal and foreign pressure" on him "due to leaks about an Israeli minister spying for Iran as well as the large-scale infiltration of the Zionist regime's intelligence services by those of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Former Israeli minister Gonen Segev has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for spying for an enemy state, the Israeli Justice Ministry said on Wednesday.

In recent years Segev lived in Nigeria, where he first made contact with the Iranian Embassy in 2012, according to the Shin Bet.

The Jerusalem al-Quds District Attorney's Office said that a sentencing hearing for Segev would take place on February 11.

Segev's lawyers said they could not discuss all the details of the case, but included in his plea deal was a removal of the charge of treason.

The charge of assisting the enemy in wartime, listed in the original indictment, was removed as part of the agreement, and Segev confessed to reduced security-related offenses, Channel 10 news reported.

The erstwhile politician, who had once attempted to smuggle ecstasy into Israel from the Netherlands and whose medical licence had been revoked in his home country, claimed his foray into espionage had been in aid of Israel.

He served as Energy and Infrastructure Minister in 1995-1996, but saw his career go steadily downhill after retiring from politics.

The report added that Segev told interrogators that he did not hand over any classified information to his Iranian handlers and that he had no ideological or financial motive to help an enemy state.

Segev was extradited from Equatorial Guinea in May 2018 and charged with spying for Iran, which is Israel's main adversary.

Permission was later given to publish the fact that serious charges had been leveled against Segev.

He admitted guilty amidst a plea bargain and served five years in prison. "The accused also gave the Iranians dozens of pieces of information in order to harm state security", read the charge sheet.

"I wanted to fool the Iranians and come back to Israel a hero", he was quoted as saying during his interrogation.

He has also been convicted of attempted credit card fraud.

A trained doctor, Segev was arrested in 2004 after he was caught trying to smuggle drugs into Israel using expired diplomatic papers.

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