Beirut: The Lebanese army arrested nine people it said have spied for Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad.
"The Intelligence Directorate was able to uncover and arrest during the last two months nine agents whose dealings with the Israeli Mossad were confirmed," the army said in a statement on its website. "Investigations with four of these agents were completed and they were referred to the relevant judicial authorities."
The other five suspects are still under investigation, the army said. Lebanon's Foreign Ministry has also filed a formal complaint with the United Nations about alleged Israeli spying in Lebanon, Major General Ashraf Reefi, head of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, said in an interview yesterday. Lebanon has no diplomatic relations with Israel and is technically at war with its neighbour. Besides the nine arrests announced by the army yesterday, the country's security forces say they have broken up 23 cells and arrested about 141 people in the past two years on spying charges.
A Lebanese army colonel was charged August 18 in a military court with spying for Israel a day after two men were sentenced to death for being agents for Mossad. Another retired Lebanese army colonel was arrested on August 3 on charges of spying for Israel.
In July a military court sentenced a 58-year-old Lebanese man to death for giving Israel information on the whereabouts of senior members of Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with the Jewish state in 2006. Lebanese law prescribes the death penalty or life imprisonment with hard labour for convicted spies. Such rulings are subject to appeal to the country's highest court.
Israel has not so far made any public statements about the arrests. Israeli government policy is not to confirm or deny allegations regarding Mossad's operations.