Jerusalem: Israeli ex-minister Gonen Segev was sentenced to 11 years in prison Tuesday for spying for his country’s main enemy Iran. Prosecutors later said that the plea bargain was necessary to avoid revealing secret information.
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.
Little was revealed of the motives of the 63-year-old, who was already disgraced after having been convicted for drug smuggling and attempted credit card fraud.
Prosecutor Geula Cohen confirmed to journalists outside the district court here that the judge had accepted the plea bargain and issued the sentence. Segev attended the closed hearing.
“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.”
Cohen 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 said his client had expressed regret for his actions. “We think that the verdict conforms with his actions and has not been lightened as much as some have written,” he told journalists.
The Shin Bet domestic security service previously accused Segev 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.
Segev, a medical doctor who had been barred from practicing in Israel, 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.