Former Israeli lawmaker indicted as alleged spy for Iran said he was trying to help his country

Former Israeli Energy Minister Gonen Segev, center, at a Tel Aviv district tribunal, April 22, 2004. (Yariv Katz/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Israeli energy minister Gonen Segev, center, at a Tel Aviv district tribunal, April 22, 2004. (Yariv Katz/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The former Israeli lawmaker charged with espionage for allegedly spying on Israel for Iran said during his interrogation that he was trying to help Israel.

Gonen Segev was arrested last month, the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, said in a statement issued Monday.

Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Monday evening that Segev admitted during his interrogation that he was in contact with the Iranians, but that he did it in order to “fool the Iranians and come back to Israel a hero.”

Segev also told the interrogators from the Israel Security Agency that he did not hand over any classified information. He added that he has no ideological or financial motives for helping Iran.

Segev was held in solitary confinement for nine days and was not allowed to have contact with his attorney during that time, according to Channel 10.

He is scheduled to remain in prison until July 9, when he will be brought to court for a remand hearing.

Segev, a pediatrician who lived and practiced medicine in Nigeria, was lured to the Iranian Embassy in 2012 after being asked to treat the children of its diplomatic staff, according to the Channel 10 report. He said he hoped he would be able to restore his reputation that was tarnished by the drug bust from over a decade ago.

He was energy and infrastructure minister from 1992 to 1995. He served more than two years of a five-year prison sentence beginning in 2005 for trying to smuggle more than 30,000 ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands and for forging a diplomatic passport. He later moved to Nigeria, where he continued to practice medicine.

Segev was arrested in May trying to enter Equatorial Guinea, which refused him entry due to his criminal record, and turned him over to the Israel Police.

 A joint Israel Security Agency and Israel Police investigation found that Segev has been working with Iranian intelligence and providing them with information about Israel’s energy economy, security sites in Israel, and diplomatic and security personnel and buildings, according to the agency.

As part of his mission, Segev put Israeli citizens in the foreign affairs and security fields in touch with Iranian intelligence agents who he passed off as Iranian businessmen, according to the agency.

Other details of the case against Segev remain under a gag order.

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