Lebanon charges three people with spying for Israel

Former general, wife, nephew will face death penalty if indicted and convicted in country's military court.

lebanon police arrest 248 88 (photo credit: )
lebanon police arrest 248 88
(photo credit: )
Lebanon charged a retired general, his wife and his nephew, who is a government security agent, with spying for Israel, the military prosecutor said Thursday, in the latest chapter in the long-running espionage war between the two countries. The general and his wife were arrested on April 11, and their nephew was detained several days later, said Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Authorities are still searching for a fourth suspect who, together with the family members, provided information to Israel about Lebanese and Syrian military and civilian installations, according to charges filed by Saqr Saqr, the military prosecutor. Their aim was "facilitating aggression," according to the charge sheet, which was carried by the state-run National News Agency. They were also charged with "entry into an enemy country without permission." Lebanon considers itself at war with Israel and bans its citizens from having any contact with the Jewish state. Israeli officials refused to comment on the allegations. Lebanese authorities have made a series of arrests in recent months that appear to be part of a stepped-up campaign against those suspected of gathering information on Hizbullah operatives for Israel. The group fought a 34-day war with the Jewish state in 2006. The retired general who was arrested had worked for the General Security Department at the Interior Ministry, the same office that employed his nephew. The former officer allegedly used his business after retiring - an office that brings foreign workers to Lebanon - as cover for his intelligence work, security officials have said. Preliminary charges like the ones filed Thursday are generally based on interrogation by intelligence agents before a suspect is turned over to the military prosecutor's office. Such charges are necessary so authorities can hold suspects while they are questioned by an investigating magistrate. Final charges can be made later based on the investigation. But the process can take months, and years can pass before a case goes to trial. Those convicted of spying for Israel can be sentenced to death.