“The highest ranking Israeli spy for Iran”

June 18, 2018


[Notes by Tom Gross]

At the end of this dispatch is the English language version of a statement issued jointly by the Israeli police and Shin Bet internal security agency. Journalists are now allowed to make public some information regarding the alleged spying for Iran by Gonen Segev, Israel’s former Minister for Energy and Infrastructure. A court order remains in place against disclosing various other sensitive details.

Segev was apprehended by the Shin Bet last month in Equatorial Guinea, and has been held for the last few weeks in a Shin Bet facility in Jerusalem. He appeared in a Jerusalem court last week and was charged with, among other things, “aiding the enemy in wartime and spying against the state of Israel”.



The photo above is of Segev speaking with Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Segev was the Member of the Knesset who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Oslo Accords in 1995, joining the Rabin coalition from the right-wing opposition, in exchange for being granted a cabinet position by Rabin as energy minister.

Segev’s detailed knowledge of Israel’s energy sector, security sites and procedures, and other highly sensitive material, later made him an attractive target for recruitment by the Iranians.

Without Segev’s vote, the Oslo accords, which did not have majority support, would likely not have been enacted. Many (including some who supported them at the time) regard the Oslo accords as a failure which have made life worse and more dangerous for both Palestinians and Israelis. They argue that had the Madrid talks, which had been initiated previously by the Shamir government with local Palestinians rather than with the PLO, been allowed to continue instead of Oslo, there would have been a better chance of bringing about a sustainable and genuine peace.



After retiring from politics, Segev was jailed in 2005 for smuggling 32,000 Ecstasy tablets disguised as M&M chocolates to Israel from Amsterdam in 2004.

Segev, 62, is also a qualified doctor and after his release from prison for selling ecstasy, he moved from Israel to Nigeria where he set up a medical clinic in Abuja which was so successful that Segev ended up treating Israeli and other countries’ ambassadors and embassy staffs. He then married a diplomat from the German Embassy, allowing him further access to international diplomatic circles.



According to the Shin Bet, Segev was recruited in 2012 by Iranian intelligence officers working out of the Iranian embassy in Nigeria.

Over the last six years, according to the Shin Bet, Segev knowingly met his Iranian intelligence operatives in hotels and apartments in different locations around the world and also traveled to Tehran twice to see his Iranian handlers. According to the Shin Bet, Iran provided him with secret communications equipment for encoding messages between him and his handlers.

In order to obtain information, Segev also allegedly maintained contact with Israeli citizens in the defense, security, and diplomatic sectors.

The Shin Bet may have become aware of his activities some time ago but decided to track him in a counter-espionage intelligence gathering operation before apprehending him last month.



Segev is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever charged with spying on Israel.

In a statement to media, Segev’s lawyers admitted their client met with Iranian operatives but claim that he was actually trying to help Israel. A similar excuse was made by Nahum Manbar, an Israeli Jew convicted of aiding Iran, but the court didn’t find Manbar’s claims credible.


Manbar attempted to sell technology and equipment for production of chemical weapons to Iran but claimed that he did so in order to gain information about missing Israeli Ron Arad, who was presumed kidnapped by the Iranians.

(I covered the Manbar case at the time for British media.)



The number of Israeli Jews who have spied against Israel is relatively few.

The most damaging case to date is that of Professor Marcus Klingberg, who hailed from a famous Polish rabbinical Hassidic family.

Klingberg, who secretly became a communist, was deputy director of Israel’s highly secretive Institute for Biological Research, south of Tel Aviv, and a professor of epidemiology at Tel Aviv University.

Klingberg was arrested in 1983, and convicted of supplying information to the KGB about Israel’s chemical and biological activities over a period of three decades. He admitting spying saying he did so for ideological reasons. He spent 20 years in prison and died aged 97, in 2015.

Klingberg’s daughter, Sylvia, was a member of the left-wing anti-Zionist Matzpen movement, and married (in a ceremony held in the prison) Ehud Adiv, an Israeli political activist serving a prison sentence on charges of spying for Syria.

Sylvia’s son, Ian Brossat, is a prominent member of the French Communist Party and represents the party on the Paris City Council.




A prominent politician who allegedly spied for the KGB was Knesset member Elazar Granot, who in the 1980s served on the influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and had been recruited by the KGB in the 1960s.


A senior employee in the Israeli Defense Ministry and a former lieutenant colonel in the IDF, Yisrael Bar, also spied for the Soviet Union in the early 1960s. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and died in prison.

There have also been a number of other cases of Israeli Jews spying against Israel, mainly for the Soviets or Russians.



Iran and its client terror group Hezbollah, have long mounted fairly sophisticated attempts to spy against Israel, and against Arab and western countries.

Another former MK, Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Christian Arab, is presently in exile in Qatar wanted for questioning in Israel on charges of spying for the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah militia. Bishara, who was leader of the Balad party in Israel’s Knesset, allegedly advised Hezbollah intelligence agents on where to target missiles against Israeli civilians during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

A Shin Bet official told reporters that Bishara, while serving as a Knesset member, had had prolonged contact with Hezbollah members who were involved in gathering information for attacks on Israel.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were reportedly transferred by Iran and Hezbollah to Bishara via Jordan and from there to a Palestinian woman in East Jerusalem.

A court-imposed gag order remains in place about other details of the case against Bishara.

-- Tom Gross


Police foreign press spokesman and ISA Spokesman:
June 18, 2018

Today it was released for publications that in May 2018 the ISA and the Israel police arrested the Minister and the former Knesset member Gonen Segev on suspicion of committing offenses of assisting the enemy in war and spying against the State of Israel.

At the end of the investigation on the 15.6.18 the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment against Segev in the Jerusalem District Court for these offenses as well as for other numerous offenses of transferring information to the enemy.

The indictment was approved by the Attorney General and the State Attorney.

Segev in recent years lived in Nigeria. He arrived in Guinea in May 2018.

Segev was transferred to Israel at the request of the Israel Police after Guinea refused to allow him to enter the country due to his criminal past.

Segev was arrested for questioning by the Shin Bet and by the police immediately after arriving in Israel after information was received indicating that Segev was maintaining contacts with Iranian intelligence and assisting them in activities against Israel.

As part of the ongoing investigation by the Shin Bet and police it was found that Segev was recruited and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence.

The investigation found that in 2012 a connection was made between Segev and the Iranian embassy in Nigeria.

Segev then met twice with Iranian operators knowing that they were from Iranian intelligence.

The investigation revealed that Segev met with his Iranian operators around the world in hotels and apartments used for secret Iranian activity.

Segev received a secret communications system to encrypt messages between him and his operators.

The investigation also revealed that Segev gave his operators information connected to the energy market and security sites in Israel including buildings and officials in political and security organizations.

In order to reach the tasks he received from his Iranian operators, Segev had connections with Israeli citizens related to Israel’s security and foreign relations.

Segev operated to connect the Israeli citizens who he was in context with to the Iranian intelligence while presenting the Iranian intelligence officials as regular businessman.

At the request of the General Security Service requested from the Court who permitted the publication of the details and a gag order on further details of the case.


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