Israeli suspected of espionage links with Iran

JERUSALEM Sun May 25, 2008 2:25pm BST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Iranian-born Israeli was charged in Israel on Sunday with passing sensitive information to Iran, Israel's Shin Bet counter-intelligence agency said.

The man was detained on May 8 and told investigators he visited the Iranian consulate in Istanbul in 2006 and disclosed the names "of people he knew, whom he said were serving in Israel's defence establishment", a Shin Bet statement said.

The suspect, who was not identified, was indicted behind closed doors.

The statement did not specify the charges brought against him but said he was suspected of contact with an Iranian agent and passing information to Iranian intelligence.

Israel is home to tens of thousands of Iranian immigrants, many of whom maintain ties with relatives in their native land despite almost three decades of hostility between the Islamic Republic and the Jewish state.

A Shin Bet official said last year that many of the emigres first stop in Istanbul to receive permits from the Iranian consulate and come under pressure to spy against Israel.

There is no Israeli law banning travel to Iran.

(Reporting by Avida Landau and Dan Williams; Editing by Alison Williams)

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