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Israel Charges Five Israelis over Alleged Contact with Iranian Agent

Israel Charges Five Israelis over Alleged Contact with Iranian Agent

Wednesday, 12 January, 2022 - 18:00
The man, who called himself "Rambod Nambar" on Facebook persuaded five Israelis via social media to gather information that included photos of a US diplomatic mission. (Shin Bet)

An Iranian operative who posed as a Jew living in Iran persuaded five Israelis via social media to gather information that included photos of a US diplomatic mission, the Shin Bet counter-intelligence agency said on Wednesday.


The four women and a man charged in the investigation were described in Israeli media reports as Jewish immigrants from Iran, Israel's arch-enemy, or their descendants.


The Shin Bet said they were indicted for "serious crimes" in a Jerusalem court over the past month, in connection with their contacts with the man, who called himself "Rambod Nambar" on Facebook and chatted with them via WhatsApp.


"This is a grave affair, in which the intention to establish an espionage network in Israel for Iran was exposed," a Shin Bet statement said, without listing the charges against the group.


Material provided to the Iranian included photographs of the US diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, an election 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 Office in Tel Aviv were taken inside the building. The agency said some of the suspects were told to try to form relationships with Israeli politicians and provide information about security arrangements at several sites.


"Although the women suspected the man was an Iranian intelligence operative, some remained in contact with him and agreed to carry out missions he assigned," the Shin Bet said.


It said one woman, aged 57, maintained a four-year relationship with "Rambod" over social media, receiving $5,000 for information that included photos of her son's military ID card and dog tags and videos of military ceremonies he attended.


She was instructed by the Iranian to establish a club for Iranian Jewish immigrants, providing him details and photographs of its members, the Shin Bet said.


"Iranian intelligence agents make extensive use of the Internet, and there has been a rise recently in these kinds of approaches to Israeli citizens," the agency added.


It said a court order banned release of the suspects' names.


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