News / Middle East

    Activist Convicted of Spying for Hezbollah

    A May 27, 2010 file photo of Israeli Arab activist Amir Makhoul (C) arriving at Haifa's district court
    A May 27, 2010 file photo of Israeli Arab activist Amir Makhoul (C) arriving at Haifa's district court

    A prominent Arab-Israeli human rights activist has been convicted of spying for Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

    The Israeli state prosecutor's office says Amir Makhoul pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that include "contact with a foreign agent" and "conspiring to assist an enemy during a time of war."  In a plea bargain, Israel dropped a more serious charge of "assisting an enemy in a time of war."

    Makhoul heads the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, a group known as Ittijah.  The organization is a network of Arab advocacy groups.  

    Israeli police arrested Makhoul in May along with Omar Saeed, another prominent Arab political activist. Israel charged both men with spying.  

    According to the indictment, Makhoul confessed to meeting with a Hezbollah agent in Denmark in 2008 and agreed to gather information on Israel's security service.

    Makhoul's lawyers argued he made the confession after undergoing several hours of harsh interrogation.

    Israel considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.

    Makhoul will be sentenced in December. Prosecutors are seeking a 10-year jail term while the defense is seeking a seven-year jail sentence.

    The French News Agency (AFP) says Saeed was freed last month after his charges were reduced in a plea bargain.

     

    Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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