Lebanon telecom employee jailed for spying for Israel

AFP , Thursday 22 Dec 2011

A telecommunications employee faces seven years in prison as part of crackdown ‎on alleged Israeli spy rings that started in 2009‎

A Lebanese military court has sentenced a telecommunications employee to seven years in prison for leaking information to Israel, a judicial source said Thursday.

Charbel Azzi, whose high-profile arrest in June 2010 sparked an outroar over the security of Lebanon's telecommunications sector, was found guilty of "collaborating with the enemy (Israel) and providing it with detailed information on communications both from the (private) Alfa network and national landline networks," the source said, requesting anonymity.

Azzi had been employed in the telecommunications ministry in 1994 before taking up a position with Alfa, one of Lebanon's two mobile phone service providers.

Lebanese authorities in 2009 launched a national crackdown on alleged Israeli spy rings. Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war and convicted spies could face the death penalty.

More than 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the Israeli spy agency Mossad, including an army general, members of the security forces and telecom employees.

Several have been sentenced to death, including one found guilty of aiding Israel during its devastating 2006 war with arch-enemy Hezbollah.

The powerful Shiite militant Hezbollah, which dominates the Lebanese government, has openly accused the Jewish state of infiltrating Lebanon's telecommunications sector.

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