Security authorities have arrested the deputy-mayor of a Lebanese town, accusing him of spying for Israel.
According to the Al-Akhbar newspaper, 61-year-old Ziad al-Homsy was asked by the Mossad to gather information on three Israeli soldiers missing since the Lebanon War in 1982. Al-Homsy is an anti-Syrian activist and a former spokesman for slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal party.
Meanwhile, on Monday, two other men accused of espionage escaped across the border to Israel with their children, claiming asylum.
Beirut’s security forces claim to have uncovered three separate “spy rings” run by the Mossad since late last year. Thirteen Lebanese nationals have been charged, including six last week, and at least 12 others are being interrogated.
“We have begun to crack the infrastructure of spy rings,” internal security chief Gen Ashraf Rifi said on Monday. “There is a common factor which has helped us track down the rings.”
The accusations range from providing Israel with information during the Second Lebanon War, to visiting Israel without permission.
Last week, Lebanese police displayed high-tech gadgets that were allegedly used by Israel to spy on Hizbollah.
The most senior Lebanese to be charged is Adeeb al-Alam, a retired colonel in Lebanon’s military intelligence. Another is Ibrahim Awad, a resident of a Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon and nephew of the leader of Fatah al-Islam, an Islamic group that clashed with the Lebanese army in 2007. The defendants face life in prison with hard labour if convicted, or the death penalty if found guilty of contributing to Lebanese loss of life.
Lebanon goes to the polls on June 7.