Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:11 am (KSA) 21:11 pm (GMT)

Beirut charges telecom worker with espionage

Last Tuesday, Lebanese and Israeli forces clashed along the border, leaving four people dead (File)
Last Tuesday, Lebanese and Israeli forces clashed along the border, leaving four people dead (File)

A Lebanese prosecutor on Saturday charged a third state telecommunications employee with spying for Israel in a widening scandal rattling the country.

Judge Sakr Sakr accused Milad Eid of "dealing with the Israeli enemy..., giving them technical information in his position as head of international communications at the Telecommunications Ministry", according to judicial sources.

Eid was also charged with meeting Israeli officers in several places outside Lebanon. If convicted, Eid, who was employed at the state-owned fixed-line operator Ogero, would face the death penalty.

Two employees working for state-owned mobile telecom firm Alfa were earlier charged with espionage for Israel, in arrests that have sparked debate on how deeply Israel had infiltrated Lebanon's telecom and security sectors.

Lebanon is in an official state of war with neighboring Israel. The powerful Lebanese Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah, fought the Jewish state to a stalemate in a 2006 war.

Last Tuesday, Lebanese and Israeli forces clashed along the border, leaving four dead in the worst such flare-up since 2006.

Lebanon in shock after ex-general’s arrest on spy charges

This week's arrest of a well-respected retired general and politician allied with Hezbollah on suspicion of spying for Israel has sent shock waves through Lebanon and left many wondering how deep the Jewish state has infiltrated the country.

Fayez Karam, a member of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), is the first political figure to be arrested in Lebanon as part of a wide-ranging probe launched in 2009 into Israeli spy networks.

A well-informed source close to the investigation said that after his detention last Monday on the orders of the prosecutor general, Karam confessed to spying for Israel.

"You don't arrest someone like him without rock-solid proof and there was enough evidence against him," the source, who requested anonymity, said.

"He may not have given the Israelis much technical information, but his arrest has a huge political impact because of his position and rank," he added.

He said Karam, 62, who stood in parliamentary elections last year, allegedly used cell phones with roaming numbers from European countries to contact his Israeli handlers.

He reportedly met them in Paris, where he travelled regularly, and was nabbed because of an unspecified mistake.

Ironically, in the 1980s Karam headed the Lebanese army's anti-terrorism and counter-espionage unit where he worked closely with FPM leader Michel Aoun, who was army chief at the time and who also served as interim prime minister.

Spies could have manipulated Hariri's death's evidence:Hezbollah

Hezbollah has suggested Israel could have used telecom agents to manipulate evidence such as phone records to implicate the group in the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has called for severe punishment for spies and said if a death sentence is submitted to him for approval, he will sign it. Two other Lebanese have been sentenced to death for spying for the Jewish state.

Spy arrests a big blow to Israel:Lebanese official

Lebanon began a wave of arrests last year as part of an espionage investigation in which dozens of people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. More than 20 people have been formally charged.

Senior Lebanese security officials have said the arrests dealt a significant blow to Israel's spying networks in Lebanon, especially since the suspects played key roles in identifying Hezbollah targets that were bombed during the 2006 conflict.

Lebanese courts have until now handed down what were widely seen as light sentences against nationals who worked with Israeli occupation forces and their local militias.

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