Sunday, January 30, 2011

Palestinian-Israeli gets 9 years for spying for Hezbollah

Palestinian-Israeli gets 9 years for spying for Hezbollah
Published today 12:42
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JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A prominent Palestinian-Israeli human rights activist was sentenced to nine years in jail Sunday after pleading guilty to spying for Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Israeli court official said.

Ameer Makhoul was convicted last October of espionage and aggravated espionage on the basis of a plea bargain in which the prosecution dropped a charge of assisting the enemy in time of war.

He was sentenced on Sunday at Haifa district court, a spokesman said.

According to court documents seen by Agence France-Presse, Makhoul met Hassan Janna, a Lebanese-born recruiter for the Hezbollah militia, during a trip to Jordan in 2004.

The two remained in touch and in 2008, Makhoul agreed to help Hezbollah against Israel, it said.

Later that year, the documents say, he met another Hezbollah agent in Copenhagen who installed a communications program on Makhoul's laptop computer through which he could send messages to the organization.

It said Makhoul subsequently filed reports on the location of installations of the Shin Bet and Mossad -- Israel's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies -- an army base and the Rafael military industries.

Makhoul provided details on access and security arrangements at the Shin Bet headquarters in the northern port city of Haifa, it added.

Makhoul, whose brother Issa is a former Palestinian-Israeli lawmaker, heads the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, or Ittijah, a Haifa-based group that fights discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

He was arrested in early May, shortly after fellow Palestinian-Israeli activist Omar Saeed was detained over similar allegations.

Charges against Saeed were reduced in a plea bargain and he was freed in September after serving a seven-month jail term.

Israel's 1.3 million Palestinian citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population, are Palestinians who remained in the country following the creation of Israel in 1948, along with their descendants.

Hezbollah is blacklisted by Israel as a terrorist organization.

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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