Haredi from anti-Zionist Naturei Karta sect charged with trying to spy for Iran

By Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ben Hartman

Jerusalem Post/August 1, 2013

Man allegedly offered Iranian embassy in Berlin intel on Israel, continued contact with Iranian officials when he returned to Israel; Shin Bet: Man confessed to acting out of "hatred for Israel" and in exchange for money.

A haredi man from the anti-Zionist Naturei Karta sect was charged Thursday with allegedly making contact with Iranian representatives abroad with the intention of passing them sensitive information about Israel.

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed the indictment with the Jerusalem District Court on charges of intent to commit treason and contacting a foreign agent.

There had previously been a media blackout on the case and a gag order remains on the haredi man’s identity.

At an unknown date, the man, 47, decided to make contact with the Iranian government in order to collect intelligence on Israel and send it to them, the indictment alleged.

In order to do this, he went online to check where he could approach an Iranian embassy, said the indictment.

The indictment said that in January 2011, he flew to Berlin and two days after arriving, approached the embassy to tell the Iranians that he was an Israeli and wanted to speak to them. At the time he was clothed in his regular haredi dresswear, including black and white clothes, and tzizit (ritual undergarments).

Next, he met Hagi Baba and two others, said the indictment.

According to the indictment, he told Baba that he was against the Jewish state, wanted the state to be taken over by non-jews, was ready to provide them intelligence and was even ready to "kill a Zionist," if necessary.

The Shin Bet General Security Services and the Israel Police simultaneously announced their prior arrest of the defendant.

According to the Shin Bet, the man was arrested in July, two years after he traveled from Israel to Berlin, Germany in 2011, where he made his way to the Iranian embassy, and reportedly told officials there that he was willing to help gather intelligence for the regime from Israel.

The Shin Bet said Thursday that after returning to Israel he kept up his connection with the Iranian officials through an email account that he would use from public internet cafes and through phone calls made from public phones near his place of residence in Jerusalem.

The Shin Bet said that under questioning the man confessed that he worked “out of a hatred for the state of Israel and in exchange for financial compensation.”

A fringe ultra-Orthodox sect established in Jerusalem in 1938, Neturei Karta (Aramaic for “Guardians of the City”) believes Israel can be reestablished only after the coming of the Messiah. The group therefore rejects Zionism and opposes the existence of the State of Israel.

Members of the sect in Israel and the US are known to burn the Israeli flag and have sent representatives to attend conferences in Iran in the past.

Last year, Arabic media reported that members of the sect met with Hezbollah officials in Beirut.

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