Monday, May 26, 2008

Israeli charged as Iranian spy pleads innocence

An Israeli, arrested and charged by Israel with spying for Iran, maintains he is innocent, Ynet News reports:

"The man, was reportedly arrested in the Ben Gurion International Airport on May 8. The indictment, filed with the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court, includes counts of contacting a foreign agent, relaying information to an enemy state, theft and fraudulently obtaining goods.The indictment further states that the man agreed to cooperate with Iranian intelligence and supply them with information regarding security establishment personnel. The man was apprehended in a joint police- Shin Bet operation.

"In his interrogation, the man admitted to visiting the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul during a stay in Turkey in 2006. Those meetings resulted in his agreeing to cooperate with Iranian intelligence. The defendant's attorney, Michal Orkaby, told Ynet that the man has not been residing in Israel for several years now.

"Her client, she added, did not give anyone any information on Israeli security services, nor does he wish the State any harm. Shin Bet data has indicated for some time now that Iranian intelligence was trying to recruit Israelis of Iranian descent to spy for Tehran.The Shin Bet reported following up on some 10 leads suggesting Israelis who have families in the Islamic Republic were pressured into becoming Iranian agents.

"One lead led to an arrest, which failed to mature into an indictment. "We didn't need to indict anyone so far, since our primary goal of intercepting any espionage attempt was met," said a senior source in the Shin Bet. "We are, however, watching this growing trend carefully."

"The Shin Bet, continued the source, has known about the Iranian intelligent activities in the Istanbul consulate for quite some time. There are at least two Iranian agents stationed there undercover, as consulate employees. The two are reportedly part of the staff assigned to handle various requests – mostly for entry visas to visit family members – by Israelis.

"Once Israelis reach Tehran, warned the Shin Bet officer, the Iranian authorities prevent them from leaving the country, pending an "intelligence inquiry" into their visit – which is when they are pressured into becoming agents."

Read article in full

Haaretz article

Jerusalem Post article

BBC website (with thanks: a reader)

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