Iran claims it recruited minister from ‘hostile government,’ possibly referring to Israel

“Awhile ago, you heard that we had (recruited) a member of the cabinet of a hostile country,” Alavi said.

By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS

Iran recruited a cabinet member of “hostile government” as an agent, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said, Iranian media reported Tuesday.

“Thank God, the Intelligence Ministry’s Anti-Espionage Unit is one of the strongest units of the ministry and one of the strongest in intelligence services in the world,” Alavi told the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on Tuesday night.

“A while ago, you heard that we had (recruited) a member of the cabinet of a hostile country.”

While Alavi did not specifically state which country, Iranian media outlets are speculating that he was referring to Israel and noted that his comments came four months after the arrest of former Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Gonen Segev, who is currently facing charges of acting as an Iranian agent.

In June, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) announced it had arrested Segev a month earlier and that the former minister was being charged with aiding the enemy in time of war and espionage against the state of Israel.

The Shin Bet said its investigation revealed that Segev was recruited by Iranian intelligence which had contacted him via the Iranian embassy in Nigeria. Segev reportedly traveled to Iran to meet with his handlers and, according to the statement, also met with them in safe houses and hotels at unspecified locations where he received encryption equipment to communicate with the Iranian agents.

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Segev gave his handlers information pertaining to Israel’s energy sector and security installations as well as diplomatic and security officials.

The Shin Bet said Segev had tried to dupe Israelis with connections to fields of interest to the Iranians into meeting with intelligence agents whom he presented as businessmen. All further details pertaining to the case have been placed under gag order.

He was extradited to Israel in May from Equatorial Guinea after the central African country refused to let him in due to his criminal past.

The former pediatrician and member of the Tzomet Party during the 1990s served a five-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle thousands of ecstasy tablets into Israel.

The trial on his espionage charges commenced in July. Prosecutor Geula Cohen of the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office stated that “this is a serious affair, when a former minister spies for an enemy state, a country at the top of the list of enemies, it is hard to ignore the severity of the acts.”