Lebanon charges telcom executive with spying for Israel

A Lebanese prosecutor charged an executive at state-owned mobile phone firm Alfa with spying for Israel and referred him to military court.

Lebanon charges telcom executive with spying for Israel

 

A Lebanese prosecutor on Tuesday charged an executive at state-owned mobile phone firm Alfa with spying for Israel and referred him to military court.

Judicial sources said if Charbel Qazzi was convicted he could face the death penalty. Alfa, which is managed by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, said it had no comment on the news.

Qazzi's arrest last month shocked the country because of his senior position in the company, and caused debate on how deeply Israel has infiltrated Lebanon's telecoms and security sectors.

President Michel Suleiman, who under Lebanese laws must sign a death sentences before it is carried out, called for severe punishment for spies. The cabinet also agreed that death sentences against Israeli spies should be implemented.

Espionage cases are always referred to military courts.

Lebanese courts have so far handed down what were widely seen as light sentences against nationals who worked with Israeli occupation forces and their local militias. Israel ended its 22-year occupation of mainly Shi'ite south Lebanon in 2000.

Alfa said that Qazzi was a technician responsible for maintaining equipment that connects cellular network stations.

But security sources described him as an executive who had worked at the company for the last 14 years, before which he was with the Telecommunications Ministry.

Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, said the case showed Israel was able to penetrate and control the telecommunications network, causing huge damage to Lebanon's national security.

Lebanon began a wave of arrests in April 2009 as part of an espionage investigation in which dozens of people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. A brigadier general of the General Security directorate was among the high profile detentions. More than 20 people have been formally charged.

Israel has not commented on any of the arrests.

Senior Lebanese security officials have said many of suspects arrested recently played key roles in identifying Hezbollah targets that were bombed during the 2006 war.

Other suspects have been charged with monitoring senior Hezbollah officials. A Lebanese arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel confessed in March to having helped in the assassination of a Hezbollah commander in 2004.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Temmuz 2010, 17:49
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