The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday acquitted two Israeli citizens—a man and a woman—of charges they spied for Iran, while convicting a third, a woman, of a lesser offense, putting an end to a case that made headlines nationwide last year.
The three suspects, all Persian-speaking Israelis born in the Islamic Republic, stood trial on charges of contact with a foreign agent and providing information that could be useful to an enemy state.
The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) alleged that the suspects were approached on Facebook by “Rambod Namdar,” who claimed to be a Jewish man living in Iran.
Some of the defendants had corresponded with “Namdar” for years. He asked them for their phone numbers and then continued the conversations on Facebook, asking them to perform various tasks in exchange for funds amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.
Two other women who were in touch with “Rambod” were already cleared of all charges at an earlier stage of the investigation.
On Wednesday, Judge Ilan Sela said “there is no doubt that these are Zionist individuals, in love with the country, who at no time intended to harm its security.
“The relations between the defendants and the foreign agent were established without them knowing his true identity,” continued Sela, who emphasized that “innocent and good people are often taken advantage of by parties … who are plotting evil against them or their country.
“These are women who were looking for warmth and love, a sympathetic ear and sometimes even financial help. And [Iranian intelligence agent] Rambod took advantage of this to forge a relationship with them and manipulated them,” the judge concluded.
The third defendant, a 40-year-old woman from Holon, was found guilty of contact with an enemy agent, as she had confessed to Shin Bet investigators that she had suspected the man she was in contact with had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
She admitted to covertly photographing the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv before it was moved to Jerusalem in May 2018, as well as inside the offices of the Interior Ministry and the National Insurance Institute offices in her hometown.
Following the arrests in January 2022, then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned citizens to be “vigilant” against possible attempts by Iranians to “influence the citizens of Israel, Israeli society, to sow polarization and controversy, to undermine political stability in Israel and to damage public trust in the government.”