Lebanon arrests third `telecom spy`

Lebanon has held over 70 people on suspicion of spying for Israel since 2009.

Beirut: Lebanon has arrested a third person in a widening probe into a network of suspected Israeli spies employed in the country`s telecom sector, a source close to the investigation said on Friday.

"The arrest was made late last night and the suspect is a former employee of Lebanon`s telecommunications sector," the source said.

He could not say whether the suspect was linked to two telecom employees arrested in the past month, whom he said were likely accomplices at the company Alfa, one of Lebanon`s two mobile service providers.

The high-profile arrest of Charbel Azzi, a technician at Alfa, last month sparked government outrage over the security of Lebanon`s telecom sector.

Tarek al-Rabaa, also an employee at Alfa, was arrested this week and had likely been collaborating with Azzi, the source said on Thursday.

Reports have identified Rabaa as a transmission engineer for the company.

The Lebanese government has so far declined to give any details on the arrest.

Azzi is charged with "entering enemy territory, collaborating with Israel and providing it with information”. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Lebanon and Israel remain technically at a state of war, and convicted spies face life in prison with hard labour or the death penalty if found guilty of contributing to Lebanese loss of life.

Lebanon has arrested more than 70 people on suspicion of spying for Israel, including security officials, since it launched a national crackdown on spy rings in April 2009.

Two Lebanese citizens have since been sentenced to death for "collaborating with Israel and providing information on targets”.

One of the two was found guilty of providing Israel with information on precise targets during the Jewish state`s deadly 2006 war with Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.

Israel has not commented on the arrests.

Bureau Report

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