Yaron Shimoni, a 42-year-old professional cleaner from the central Israeli city of Beersheba, allegedly passed data to the Israeli Branch of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), one of several governmental agencies that are considered intelligence organizations.
In the raid on Shimoni’s home in Beersheba’s Hatillo neighborhood on Oct. 2, the office of Israeli attorney general Miriam Barak confirmed the arrest and cited cooperation with a partner agency in Germany in releasing a statement, according to Haaretz.
“Shimoni confessed that he was carrying out the orders of the Head of the German Branch of the Organisa-tion for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and passed on information on the affairs of Israel, and that he passed the information on to unnamed people in Germany who passed it on to another organization,” read the statement. “The attorney general requested criminal cooperation from the Israeli security services in order to reveal the identities of the other two organizations and those people involved in this criminal activity.”
The German branch of the OSCE was established in 1997 as a voluntary intergovernmental organization. Though the organization’s members do not receive official funding, the cooperation is maintained for a range of services to the region.
Although Shimoni allegedly handed over sensitive information, there are questions about whether the matter fell within the OSCE’s mandate. The spokesman for the OSCE announced that there is an ongoing investigation into the issue and therefore could not comment.
Shimoni reportedly works at various government offices and has access to high-level information, which is why a national guard unit for building security visited his home on Oct. 2 and seized his identification cards, The Times of Israel reported.
Three government offices with immediate oversight of Shimoni were targeted in the raid, including the Interior Ministry, the Military Evacuation Directorate and the Defense Ministry. Shimoni worked at the Defense Ministry’s Hevron base and in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He also worked at the local municipality of Beersheba, where he cleans offices and homes.
The Defense Ministry said Shimoni had been working for the ministry as an office cleaner since at least 2011. A spokesperson for the ministry refused to confirm whether the ministry, which has a history of spying cases, was the subject of Shimoni’s revelations.
Shimoni’s status as a cleaner is not an uncommon one in Israel. According to the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, as many as 23 percent of construction and housing contracts in the country are handled by men and women who work as cleaners.