Israel's Shin Bet security agency has questioned an Israeli of Iranian origin suspected of agreeing to spy for Tehran, officials said Tuesday, accusing the Iranians of stepping up its efforts to recruit visiting Israelis.
Many Israelis have relatives in Iran and before Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution, ties between the two countries were warm. According to Israel Army Radio, some 100 Israelis have visited Iran over the past two years.
According to the AP, the Israeli security officials said most of the recent Iranian attempts to recruit Israelis took place at Iran's consulate in Istanbul. The city is a stopover for Israelis of Iranian origin seeking to obtain an Iranian passport to visit their relatives. Iran does not allow entry on an Israeli passport, the officials said.
Israeli Army Radio cited a senior Shin Bet officer as saying his agency uncovered 10 such attempts during the past two years. It said passport applicants at the Istanbul consulate were quizzed about their Israeli military service and about the general economic and security climate in Israel.
Haaretz daily said the man detained for questioning by the Shin Bet was picked up on his return to Israel and told his interrogators that Iranian agents had asked him to recruit, in turn, a relative who had previously worked for the Israeli security services.