Israeli authorities indicted a former Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for multiple charges of spying for Iran, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) reported in a statement on Monday. Gonen Segev was arrested in Equatorial Guinea and extradited to Israel in May on allegations that he was “assisting the enemy in war and spying against the state of Israel,” the ISA further reported.
After serving time in Israeli prison for a 2006 drug smuggling conviction, the dishonored physician moved to Nigeria. Segev plead guilty to attempting to transport 30,000 Ecstasy tablets to Israel from the Netherlands as part of a plea bargain agreement. Upon moving to Nigeria, Segev had his first contact with Iranian intelligence officials.
In 2012, the ex-minister had an exchange with two Iranian intelligence officials at the Iranian embassy in Nigeria. As Segev’s rapport with Iranian officials developed, he began to meet more Iran-affiliated spies around the world in hotels and apartments. According to the ISA report, Segev received a “secret communications system” to send encrypted messages with the Iranians.
The former Israeli cabinet member reportedly disclosed information associated with Israel’s energy market and security systems, including intelligence on government buildings and personnel in security organizations. The ISA detailed that Segev was also communicating with Israeli citizens working in Israeli foreign relations and helped connect them with Iranian intelligence officials who postured as ordinary businessmen.
In a statement on Tuesday,, a senior aid to Iranian President Rouhani dismissed Gonen Segev’s arrest and said the allegations should be ignored. The Iranian government spokesman announced at a press conference in Tehran that the “Zionist regime uses every tool to blame the Islamic Republic of Iran” and that “It’s not clear what this is, but we must ignore it.”
Although initially, Segev’s legal team declined to comment, Moshe Mazor a lawyer for the former cabinet member told CNN that “most of the details are confidential at the State’s request. Even at this early stage it is possible to say that the permitted publication looks extremely severe, even though in the indictment, whose full details remain confidential, an entirely different picture emerges.”
Moreover, according to the Hebrew media, Segev claimed that he was seeking to deceive the Iranian regime by disseminating false information and hoped to return home a hero. While the charges against Segev and the initial details of the allegations remain public information, specifics of the investigation remain under a gag order.
On Tuesday, Gonen Segev transferred penitentiaries from a Shin Bet facility to Gilboa Prison in northern Israel. He is currently awaiting his next court hearing which is set to proceed on July 9.