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Defence: Gantz's cleaner did not intend to harm national security by trying to spy for Iran

Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz arrives for a photo at the President's residence during a ceremony for the new coalition government in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli Public Defender's Office said yesterday that the member of Defence Minister Benny Gantz's housekeeping staff who is accused of spying for Iran, had acted out of "financial duress" and had not intended to harm national security, Reuters reported.

The Public Defender's Office which assigned Gal Wolf to defend the suspect, told Kan public radio that the man had intended to extract money without actually being able to carry out any espionage.

"A person can boast and say he can deliver the goods, [but] the Shin Bet's statement does not stand the test of reality," Wolf said.

The Shin Bet security service said in a statement that the suspect corresponded with an "unnamed person identified with Iran", over social media and provided photographs taken in the house as proof that he had access and proposed the installation of malware on Gantz's computer.

The Shin Bet said the suspect, who performed housekeeping and cleaning tasks in Gantz's residence, was indicted on espionage charges by a court in Lod, near Tel Aviv. It said he was arrested after an investigation earlier this month.

In its announcement, the Shin Bet said that while the suspect posed a potential danger to national security, he "was not exposed to classified material and subsequently none was passed on from him to the elements with whom he made contact."

Omri Goren, a 37-year-old Israeli citizen from Lod, had been vetted and allowed to work in the minister's home despite having previous criminal convictions and serving time for bank robbery, theft and breaking and entering.

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