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Alleged 'Israeli Spy' On Hunger Strike in Lebanon

A Lebanese telecom employee arrested last year on suspicion of spying for Israel has declared a 2-day hunger strike to protest his trial.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/3/2011, 7:08 PM

A telecom employee arrested last year for allegedly being part of a network of Israeli spies in Lebanon began a hunger strike on Monday to protest his continued incarceration.

Tareq Rabaa, a former technician at Alfa – one of Lebanon’s two cellular operators – was arrested in July 2010, on suspicion of collaborating with another Alfa employee Charbel Qazzi to spy for Israel.

In a statement released Monday, Rabaa said he will carry out a 48-hour hunger strike to protest “continued detention and the non-response to his request to stop his trial.”

“I am being prosecuted on fabricated charges,” Rabaa said. “What is being applied in Lebanon is contradictory to the official line of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ What is actually happening is ‘convicted until proven innocent.’”

The high-profile arrest of Qazzi, a technician at Alfa, sparked official concern over the security of Lebanon's telecom sector. Qazzi was charged with "entering enemy territory, collaborating with Israel and providing it with information."

Qazzi and Rabaa face the death penalty if convicted. Israeli officials have refused to comment on either man's case.

Since April 2009, Lebanon has arrested more than 150 people on suspicion of spying for Israel, including security officials, in what critics have characterized as a combination of paranoid witch-hunt and propaganda stunt.

The arrests came astride the terror militia Hizbullah's successful political putsch against the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and subsequent rise to power as the key backer of the current Mikati-government.