Lebanese soldiers at a border crossing
Lebanese soldiers manning a border crossing into Israel Photo by AP
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The arrest of a senior Lebanese media figure earlier this week has led to significant turns in the ongoing Lebanese investigation of a spy ring, Arabic language media reported on Wednesday.

According to reports, the Lebanese prosecution is planning to ask that several senior government officials be stripped of their immunity so that they can be investigated in relation to the spy ring.

Lebanon began a wave of arrests in April 2009 as part of an investigation in which dozens of people have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. A retired brigadier general of the General Security Directorate was among the detainees. More than 20 people have been formally charged. On Friday, a Palestinian refugee was also arrested for alleged espionage.

The Arabic media reported that the arrest of Charbel Qazzi, the head of transmissions and broadcasting at the Alfa mobile phone network, was the most significant arrest in the investigation since the discovery of the spy ring. Lebanese security officials have said that the arrest proved that Israel had control over Lebanon’s telecommunications sector and that it was involved in Lebanese diplomacy, economy and security.

The authorities have accused Qazzi of "supplying Israel with sensitive information that harms Lebanese national security." Investigators were reportedly trying to determine the identities of possible co-conspirators.

The Hezbollah-linked network al-Manar reported that the Lebanese military intelligence had launched a large scale investigation which was expected to examine every communications branch in the country. According to reports, military intelligence is intensively investigating both of Lebanon's major cellular companies Alfa and MTC.

"The investigation will continue until the Israeli intelligence is blind and deaf in Lebanon," Lebanese officials told al-Manar.

Lebanese sources described Qazzi as a "very big fish" and added that "there is no doubt that he did not work alone." According to reports, suspicions arose when Qazzi suddenly became wealthy.

The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that Qazzi confessed to planting computer programs and spy chips in antennas and transmitters belonging to the company – which he claimed were used by the Israeli intelligence for wiretapping communications between Lebanese agents.