Israel charges five Israelis over alleged contact with Iranian agent

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JERUSALEM, January 12 (Reuters) – An Iranian agent posing as a Jew living in Iran persuaded five Israelis via social media to collect information including photos of a US diplomatic mission, the counter agency said on Wednesday. -espionage Shin Bet.

The four women and one man indicted in the investigation have been described in Israeli media as Jewish immigrants from Iran, Israel’s nemesis or their descendants.

The Shin Bet said they were charged with “serious crimes” by a court in Jerusalem over the past month, in connection with their contacts with the man, who called himself “Rambod Nambar” on Facebook (FB.O ) and chatted with them via WhatsApp.

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“This is a serious matter, in which the intention to establish a spy ring in Israel for Iran has been revealed,” said a Shin Bet statement, without listing the charges against the group.

The material provided to the Iranian included photographs of the US diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, an electoral polling station, an Interior Ministry office and a shopping mall, the statement said.

The Shin Bet did not say whether photographs of the US branch in Tel Aviv were taken inside the building. The agency said some of the suspects had been ordered to try to establish relationships with Israeli politicians and provide information on security arrangements at several sites.

“Although the women suspected the man of being an Iranian intelligence agent, some remained in contact with him and agreed to carry out the assignments he had given him,” the Shin Bet said.

He said a 57-year-old woman had a four-year relationship with “Rambod” on social media, receiving $ 5,000 for information including photos of the military ID card and license plates. identity of his son and videos of military ceremonies he attended.

She was tasked by the Iranian with starting a club for Iranian Jewish immigrants, providing him with details and photographs of its members, the Shin Bet said.

“Iranian intelligence agents make heavy use of the Internet, and there has recently been an increase in such approaches towards Israeli citizens,” the agency added.

He said a court order banned the release of the names of the suspects.

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Reporting by Jeffrey Heller Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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