Yaqoub Abu al-Qia’an, an Israeli construction magnate who had a brief stint as a Knesset candidate for the state’s Telem Party, was charged on Monday with relaying information to Iranian intelligence officials that detailed certain aspects of the Israeli state.
The Israeli millionaire, who was indicted at the Southern District Court in Beersheba, was specifically charged with contact with a foreign agent and disclosing information to an enemy of the state.
The Shin Bet security service detailed after a gag order on the case was partially lifted that Abu al-Qia’an allegedly kept in contact with Haidar al-Mashhadani, a Lebanese-Iraqi man who acted as a go-between for Iranian intelligence authorities.
As for the information that was handed over to Iranian contacts, reports have indicated it was not classified information. In fact, it’s believed that Abu al-Qia’an’s intel was publicly available information.
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) July 12, 2021
Citing Channel 12, the Times of Israel reported that the so-called intelligence that was forked over was of “no value,” and that it detailed the movements of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz - information that was already made available to the public.
It’s presently unclear how long Abu al-Qia’an maintained his contact with al-Mashhadani, how frequent the conversations were held between Abu al-Qia’an and al-Mashhadani, as well as the identities of Iranian officials who received the updates.
Although nothing ever materialized, it has also been detailed that Abu al-Qia’an inquired about having covert, in-person meetings with Iranian operatives. Abu al-Qia’an’s efforts were also reportedly tied to the millionaire’s interest in expanding his own business opportunities.
According to YNet News, Abu al-Qia’an rejected the accusations during Monday’s court proceedings, vowing that he did not commit any national security offenses. He later opted to fully withdraw his past confession after stating parts of his statement were fabricated.
However, Abu al-Qia’an did admit to having knowingly held business ties with a foreign agent.
Abu al-Qia’an was initially arrested on June 10, with Israeli officials having kept him in custody for weeks without filing charges or granting the businessman contact with his legal representatives. Reports of his case only recently surfaced after the Ashkelon District Court partially raised a gag order on the developments.
The millionaire’s case comes months after reports detailed that an Israeli service member was found dead in his jail cell after having been detained for reportedly harming Israeli national security. Little is known about the case, as it too was slapped with a gag order.