6 Lebanese charged as spies for Israel

Arrests part of a stepped-up campaign against those suspected of working for Mossad against Hizbullah.

masked labanese police 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
masked labanese police 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A Lebanese military prosecutor charged on Wednesday six people accused of collaborating with Israel, judicial officials said, in what has become the latest espionage tug-of-war between the two countries. Under Lebanese legal jargon, collaboration often means spying - a crime that can carry a death sentence in this country. Lebanon considers itself at war with Israel and bans its citizens from having any contact with the Jewish state. The charges come after Lebanon recently announced the arrests of at least 14 suspects accused of spying for Israel but it was not immediately known if the six charged are part of that group. The judicial officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with judicial regulations, said the six included a police staff sergeant. The officials would not say if all the six were Lebanese. On Monday, Lebanese police displayed sophisticated devices they claimed were seized from Palestinians living in the country and from Lebanese recruited by Israel to spy on the Hizbullah. The arrests, mainly in southern Lebanon, appeared to be part of a stepped-up campaign against those suspected of gathering information on Hizbullah terrorists for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency. The Iranian-backed Hizbullah fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon and 159 in Israel. Most of the recent arrests were based on information from a retired Lebanese general, who was charged with spying for Israel last month along with his wife and his nephew, who was a government security agent, Lebanese officials have said. Israeli officials have refused to comment on the arrests. Last week, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev reiterated that it is not Israel's practice to comment on such allegations. Hizbullah's TV station lauded the arrests as the result of coordinated efforts between the militant group's security branch and the police and military intelligence.