Lebanon nabs 3 suspected Israel spies

Authorities detain men following info extracted from retired general, search for 4th suspect continues.

lebanon police arrest 248 88 ap (photo credit: )
lebanon police arrest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: )
Lebanese authorities arrested three men early Saturday for allegedly being part of a spying ring for Israel, security officials said, in the latest episode in the long-running espionage war between the two countries. Agents grabbed the three - two Lebanese and a Palestinian - from their homes in southern Lebanon during a raid early Saturday, security officials said. Authorities are searching for a fourth suspect, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The Israeli government could not be reached for comment. The arrests were based on information extracted from a retired Lebanese general arrested earlier this week, also for allegedly spying for Israel. The general, his wife and his nephew, who is a government security agent, were charged this week with espionage. According to military prosecutor Saqr Saqr, the three arrested Saturday were providing information to Israel about Lebanese and Syrian military and civilian installations. The retired general had worked for the General Security Department at the Interior Ministry, the same office that employed his nephew. He told interrogators he had worked for Israel for more than 10 years and regularly met with his Israeli contacts at European destinations. 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 are 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. Lebanon considers itself at war with Israel and bans its citizens from having any contact with the Jewish state. 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.