Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, that Egyptian convictions of members, who he said helped Palestinians in Israel-besieged Gaza, is "political and unjust".
An Egyptian military court on Wednesday convicted 26 men accused of "planning attacks" inside Egypt and of being linked to Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Nasrallah vowed to seek a "diplomatic and political way out" of Wednesday's jailings, echoing similar comments made a day earlier by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The court sentenced the men -- who included Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians and one Sudanese -- to jail terms from six months to life. Some were convicted in absentia.
Among those tried was Sami Chehab, also named as Mohamed Youssef Mansour Ahmed, who received a jail term of 15 years. He was present in court, placed with the others inside a cage.
Nasrallah last year confirmed after the arrests were publicised that he sent a senior commander, Mohammed Yusef Mansur, alias Sami Shihab, to Egypt to support Palestinians in Gaza during Israel's devastating December 2008-January 2009 offensive
Israel killed nearly 1500 Palestinians in that attack, with a third of them children and women.
Hezbollah was formed during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It came out into the open as a mainly guerrilla group in 1985 but quickly began establishing social and medical networks in Lebanon.
"Hariri on jail"
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said after the verdicts that Beirut would seek to resolve the issue calmly and away from the glare of publicity.
"This is an Egyptian court case that has its own laws and rules," he told reporters in Beirut, speaking in English. "We would like that our relationship with Egypt stays a relationship with Egypt. We will solve this issue calmly."
But he also said, in Arabic: "We will, hopefully, have contacts with (Egypt's Foreign) Minister (Ahmed) Abul Gheit to see how we can resolve this matter."
Resistance by Hezbollah were instrumental in Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.
Israel attacked the group in 2006 that that cost Lebanon a heavy civilian toll but failed to defeat its guerrilla force on the ground.
Nasrallah, 49, has headed Hezbollah since 1992 when his predecessor, Abbas Moussaoui, was killed in an Israeli helicopter raid. The party has participated in the Lebanese government since 2005.
Hezbollah holds 10 seats in Lebanon's 30-member unity government formed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
"Dealing through political, diplomatic means"
"The verdicts that were issued ... against the mujahideen who were providing support for the mujahideen in Gaza are political and unjust ... against these honourable mujahideen," Nasrallah was quoted as saying on Thursday on the group's website (www.moqawama.org).
"It is a source of pride to us for all Arab and Islamic peoples to know that we are detained and jailed for... standing by our brothers in Palestine and Gaza," Nasrallah said, according to the transcript of the interview released by his office.
"From day one, we have said - and I personally have said - that these men are honourable brothers, fighters of the resistance, and not outlaws, terrorists and criminals, as the court verdict says," Nasrallah said.
The website said Nasrallah made the remarks in an interview to be aired on Thursday on Kuwait's al-Rai television.
Nasrallah said he would not allow the men to stay in jail.
"The case with Egypt is not closed. Certainly, we will not leave our brothers in the jails," he was quoted as saying. "We will seek, through political and diplomatic means, to deal with this issue."
Israel, which wants to crush any Palestinian liberation movement, responded to Hamas's win in the elections with sanctions, and almost completely blockaded the impoverished coastal strip after Hamas seized power in 2007, although a ‘lighter’ siege had already existed before.
Egypt is the only Arab state to share a border with Gaza. 1.5 million Gazans live under heavy Israel siege and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2010, 12:02