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Israel Begins Announcing Names of Prisoners to be Freed Under Hezbollah Agreement - 2004-01-27


Israel has begun releasing the names of prisoners who are to be freed under an exchange agreement with Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group.

Under the German-mediated deal, Israel is to free more than 400 Arab and Palestinian prisoners, as well as the bodies of a number of guerrilla fighters. In exchange Hezbollah will release an Israeli businessman and return the bodies of three Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped and killed in 2000 while on patrol along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Late Monday, Israel's prison service began releasing the names on an Internet website of the first group of prisoners to be freed. It includes two of the most prominent inmates, guerrilla leaders Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid. Israeli forces abducted the two men from Lebanon several years ago, Sheikh Obeid in 1989 and Mr. Dirani in 1994.

Mr. Dirani testified in a Tel Aviv court Tuesday in a suit he has brought against the Israeli government charging he was sexually abused and raped by interrogators.

He is seeking $1.3 million in damages.

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