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    Israeli charged with passing information to Iran

    AP
    25.05.2008 - 17:11 | Son Güncelleme:

    An Iranian-born Israeli was charged Sunday with passing defense information to Tehran, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The Israeli told interrogators he had repeatedly visited the Iranian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and gave the Iranians names of acquaintances he said served in the Israeli security forces.

    Rosenfeld said the man, who lives abroad, was arrested by police and agents of the Shin Bet security agency on May 8 after arriving in Israel for a visit. 

     

    He was questioned on suspicion of having contacts with an Iranian intelligence agent, Rosenfeld said. A court banned publication of the suspects name or further details of the case.

     

    In April 2007 Israeli security officials said they had broken up an Iranian plot to recruit Israelis as spies, centered largely on the Istanbul consulate. Documents released at the time by the Shin Bet said at least two people there were intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover

     

    About 135,000 Israeli Jews trace their roots to Iran, according to Israeli government figures, and many have relatives there. An estimated 25,000 Jews live in overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim Iran.

     

    Turkey is a short flight from Tel Aviv and a convenient point for Israelis of Iranian origin seeking to obtain an Iranian passport in order to visit their relatives. Iran does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and does not allow entry on an Israeli passport.

     

    The Shin Bet has said passport applicants at the Istanbul consulate had been quizzed in the past about their Israeli military service and about the general economic and security climate in Israel.

     

    Israel considers Tehran a strategic threat, saying it seeks to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge but its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has often called for Israel’s destruction.

     

    In January, David Shamir, a major in Israel’s army reserves, was sentenced to five years in prison for offering secret information to Iran and the militant Palestinian Hamas movement.

     

    Last year a court convicted army Col. Omar el-Heib of spying for the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia. El-Heib jailed for 15 years for providing the group with information on Israeli troop movements in return for money and drugs.

     

    In 1998, businessman Nahum Manbar was sentenced to 16 years in prison for supplying Iran with materials that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons.

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