Friday, 7 May 2010

Lebanon charges army colonel with spying for Israel

A Lebanese prosecutor on Friday charged an army colonel with spying for Israel and referred him to a military court.

Security sources said Colonel Gazwan Shahin, the fourth officer to be arrested on suspicion of espionage since last year, was arrested a few months ago.

A security source said Shahin provided Israel's spying agency with pictures, information and coordinates of civil and military posts during and after a 34-day war in 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel.

An investigation into spying for Israel has led to more than 50 arrests since last year, including holding a former brigadier general of the General Security directorate. More than 20 have been formally charged.

Lebanon, which is in a state of war with Israel, has described the arrests as a major blow to Israel's spying networks in the country. Hezbollah has called for the death penalty for all suspects convicted of spying for Israel.

One of the suspects held had confessed to having helped in the assassination of a Hezbollah commander in 2004.

Israel has not commented on the arrests.

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

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