Accused Hizbullah Spy Strikes Plea Bargain
An Arab citizen of Israel accused of spying on behalf of Hizbullah will plead guilty to “working for an illegal organization” and spend seven months in prison. The bargain between prosecutors and Dr. Omar Said was presented in court in Nazareth on Thursday.
Said's attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, expressed satisfaction with the plea bargain, noting that the original charges against his client could have led to a lengthy prison sentence.
Said and Israeli-Arab activist Amir Makhoul are accused of making contact with a Hizbullah agent and providing the Lebanese terrorist group with information. The plea bargain with Said is unrelated to Makhoul's trial, which has yet to begin.
Both suspects confessed to ties with Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman living in Jordan who works on behalf of Hizbullah. The pair first made contact with Jaja when the latter transferred money to Israeli-Arab non-profit groups.
Makhoul confessed to meeting in Denmark with a Hizbullah agent, whom he met through Jaja, and agreeing to gather information for Hizbullah and recruit other Israel-Arabs as spies for the group. He later sent Hizbullah a list with the names of six Arab citizens of Israel who he believed would work on behalf of the organization.
Makhoul's attorneys say their client's confession was extracted using unreasonable pressure, a claim the Shin Bet has denied.
Said admitted to meeting a Hizbullah agent in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt two years ago, and to naming two Israeli-Arabs as potential spies. However, he told investigators that he had refused to provide Hizbullah with the information it sought, and later cut his ties with the agent, although he continued contacts with Jaja.
Said has accused the Israeli security apparatus of filing charges against him in order to “frighten and slander the Arab community in Israel.” He referred to the trial as “political persecution.”