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Thu 1 Jul 2010 06:47 AM

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Lebanon's Alfa confirms employee held in spy probe

State owned mobile phone firm says employee was cellular network technician.

Lebanon's Alfa confirms employee held in spy probe
SPY CASE; Lebanese mobile phone firm Alfa has confirmed that an employee has been held in a spy ring investigation. (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Lebanese state-owned mobile phone firm Alfa has confirmed an employee had been detained by the army on suspicion of spying for Israel, a case Hezbollah said showed the country's security was under threat.

Alfa, which is managed by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, said in its first public statement on the case that the employee was a technician responsible for maintaining equipment that connects cellular network stations.

Security sources had identified the man as Charbel Qazzi and said he 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 infiltrate and control the telecommunications network, causing huge damage to Lebanon's national security.

"(This case) touches on Lebanese security, including all of its institutions, and the security of every Lebanese citizen ... The country has become exposed in front of the enemy," Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah said on Tuesday.

Lebanon began a wave of arrests in April 2009 as part of a widespread espionage investigation in which dozens of people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. More than 20 people have been formally charged, including an army colonel.

Hezbollah has called for the death penalty for all of the arrests while Israel has not commented on any of them.

Lebanon, which is in a state of formal war with Israel, has said the arrests dealt a major blow to Israel's spying networks in Lebanon and that many of the suspects played key roles in identifying Hezbollah targets bombed during the 2006 war.

President Michel Suleiman said punishment should be severe.

"The issue of spying on the nation is unacceptable from anyone and there must be severity in punishing the spies. The judiciary will not show leniency ... and if I get a verdict of the death sentence, I will sign it," he told reporters.

The cabinet in a session on Wednesday said it agreed that it would implement death sentences against all Israeli spies who receive them.

So far, just one of the suspects arrested in the espionage investigation has been sentenced to death.

Lebanese courts have 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 May 2000. (Reuters)

Dastagir 9 years ago

Israel is still licking its wounds got from the resistance force Hezbollah when it invaded Lebanon in 2006. Hezbollah's flawless telecommunication system is one of reason for their victory against Israel. Israel thought that they would get walk over against Hezbollah when it invaded Lebanon,after the exit of Syrian forces from Lebanon after the assassination of Hariri.