According to the indictment, Omri Goren communicated with an Iranian official and discussed hacking the defense minister’s computer, as well as sending images of his home.
The Shin Bet security service said Thursday that Omri Goren, 37, who worked as a house cleaner for Defense Minister Benny Gantz was arrested earlier this month for allegedly promising to spy on the minister on behalf of Iran.
Goren allegedly contacted Iran-linked hackers Black Shadow over Telegram using a false name following Israeli media stories last month detailing the group’s hacking attempts against the Israeli government and private targets.
The Central District prosecutor filed an indictment charging Goren with espionage, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
A search of his cell phone uncovered evidence that corroborated his confession, including online searches conducted around the time he contacted Black Shadow, translations made from Hebrew to English using Google Translate, and the restoration of photographs taken at Gantz’s residence.
This included discussing the potential of planting malware on Gantz’s home computer, which would have granted access to the minister’s laptop to the Iranian-linked operative.
Between 2002 and 2013, he had a lengthy criminal record that includes five convictions and 14 offenses, including two bank robberies, burglary, and theft. He was also sentenced to four years in prison, the last of which was for robbery.
“To demonstrate his capability and sincerity, Omri photographed a variety of objects throughout the minister’s residence and provided them to the figure, including shots of the minister’s computer,” the Shin Bet claimed.
According to the service, Goren was unable to carry out his plans, which would have jeopardized national security, due to his swift arrest.
“It should be emphasized that, in accordance with operational security protocols at the minister’s residence, Omri was not exposed to classified information and hence no such documents were passed to the people with whom he interacted,” the Shin Bet said.
The security service stated that in light of this incident, it has decided to conduct an internal assessment of how personnel at ministers’ houses are examined “with the purpose of preventing future instances of this type.”