Monday, August 05, 2013

Ultra-Orthodox man who offered to spy for Iran served in IDF 

n ultra-Orthodox man accused of offering to spy for Iran on Israel previously served in the Israel Defense Forces but was released for reasons of mental health.

The man, a member of the anti-Zionist fringe group Neturei Karta, was remanded for two days during a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court Monday.

The 46-year-old, whose name is under gag order, is accused of meeting with Iranian officials at their embassy in Berlin and offering to spy on Israel and "kill a Zionist."

During the proceedings on Monday the indictment against the man, who joined the Neturei Karta sect later in life, revealed that he had previously tried to obtain a Libyan passport from an embassy somewhere in Europe.

Yair Nehorai, the suspect's attorney, asked for his client to be given a psychological assessment to determine if he is capable of standing trial.
The court will decided within the next two days whether or not to release the man's name, and if he is to be held in police custody until the end of proceedings.

The secrecy about the case was partially lifted last Thursday when police said an indictment was filed against a suspect held on charges of espionage and abetting an enemy in a time of war.

According to the indictment, the suspect reportedly flew to Berlin in January 2011 in order to meet with Iranian officials at the country's embassy in the city. He attempted to enter the embassy on January 17, but found it to be closed. Returning the following day, he was shepherded into an inner room at the embassy and there met with three unidentified men.

One of the men introduced himself as Haji Baba, according to the indictment, which is partly based on the suspect's testimony.

The suspect told the Iranian officials that he denies the existence of the State of Israel and offered to spy for Iran. He also explained to the officials that he was not interested in asylum, and was "willing to murder a Zionist."

The Iranian officials gave the suspect a note with an email address where they said he would find a message. They also asked the suspect to maintain telephone contact with them.

Three days after the meeting, the suspect returned to Israel and began to check the email account repeatedly, and even attempted to contact "Haji Baba" by phone.

He was arrested in mid-July, but a gag order was placed on the case.

Nehorai maintained that his client did not harm national security.

"It's important to remember that no harm was caused to the state or any other party. The [indictment] refers to events that took place over two years ago. We will study the evidence and deal with these serious accusations," Nehorai said.

The state prosecution has said the suspect confessed to the crimes cited in the indictment.

The anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta sect holds a theological view that sees the founding of the State of Israel as a violation of God's plan for history.

In 2006, members of the sect visited Iran to take part in a conference hosted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which sought to "re-examine the Holocaust."

The group was widely condemned for the visit, which was designed to lend a sheen of respectability to Holocaust denial efforts by the Iranian regime.


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