Israeli Ex-minister, Once Jailed for Smuggling Ecstasy, Gets 11 Years in Prison for Spying for Iran

Gonen Segev, who was caught trying to smuggle ecstasy into Israel in 2004, found guilty of aggravated espionage. Shin Bet: He gave Iran state information from his stint in cabinet

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Gonen Segev at the start of his espionage trial, July 2018
Gonen Segev at the start of his espionage trial, July 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Gonen Segev, a former cabinet minister, doctor and farmer, was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years in prison for aggravated espionage on behalf of Iran. Segev has already served three years of a five-year prison term for smuggling ecstasy tablets into Israel, using a doctored diplomatic passport.

>> Ecstasy smuggling, a fake diplomatic passport and Rabin: Who is Gonen Segev?

Segev served as Israel's energy and infrastructure minister from January 1995 to June 1996, but was arrested in 2018 on charges of delivering dozens of items of information to Tehran with the purpose of harming Israel's security. The original charges against him included aiding the enemy in war, spying against the State of Israel, and giving information to the enemy.

Segev met with his Iranian handlers in a number of countries, including Iran, and gave them information about Israeli security that he had learned while serving as a minister, the prosecution charged. The Shin Bet security service has assessed that Segev did not have access to up-to-date information because more than two decades had passed since his service in cabinet. According to the Shin Bet, however, Segev had tried to obtain more current information through his contacts in Israel.

According to Israel's public broadcaster, Kan, Segev claimed he had planned to become a double agent, helping Israel too. Segev claims to have told a senior Israeli security person the moment the Iranians got in touch with him, and expected to get instructions from this person, according to Kan.

Following his stint in cabinet, Segev quit politics for business. But in April 2004, Segev was caught trying to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy tablets from Amsterdam to Israel. He claimed he thought they were M&M candies. It didn't help that he was using a falsified diplomatic passport. He was sentenced to five years, sat for three and had his medical license revoked.

Segev's lawyer, Moshe Mazor, stated after the hearing that as they had said all along, the case should have been seen in "different proportions." 

"The plea bargain and amended indictment restore the affair to its natural dimensions. The indictment had been drastically amended, regarding the crimes and the facts, too. Note that the prosecution wants to release more information to the public and when that happens, it will transpire that Segev had contact with the Iranians not to help the enemy, which is why the crime of treason was removed from the indictment."

Segev feels like anybody would in that situation, his lawyer said, adding that it isn't easy for Segev, but he's coping.

Prosecutor Geula Cohen said after the hearing that more information will be disclosed about the facts, without harming state security, and added that the crimes speak for themselves. She added that Segev is an elderly man who now faces a not-short prison term of 11 years. Segev was born in Kiryat Motzkin in 1956

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