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Lebanese officials announced yesterday that retired general Fayez Karam, a senior political figure, was arrested for allegedly spying for Israel.

The arrest of Karam sent shock waves throughout Lebanon as he is one of the heads of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, a close ally of Hezbollah, headed by Michel Aoun.

Karam retired from the Lebanese Army in 1990 as a brigadier general, following the departure of Aoun, who had headed the army, into exile in France. The former general was arrested along with other suspects several days ago and the daily Al-Akhbar was first to report the news on Tuesday, without giving any details of the man's identity.

Al Jazeera reported from Lebanon yesterday and gave Karam's name. According to the report, the former general admitted having contact with Israel since 2005 and the Lebanese counter-intelligence service of the Lebanese Army had collected much evidence against him.

It was also reported that another senior officer had been arrested. There was no official response from the Aoun camp on the arrest, however the party's website issued a news alert that Karam had been arrested and is suspected of espionage.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar news agency reported on the arrests in a short broadcast.

Karam had served in one of the more sensitive organizations of the army and had headed the counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence branches. The 62-year-old father of two, Karam, the son of a senior army officer, joined the army in 1969 and advanced through the ranks. He also completed two training programs in France and the U.S. throughout his career.

In 1990 he was captured by the Syrians and held for five months, before being released and joining Aoun in exile.

His arrest is the latest of a string of several in recent months, among them senior figures in a cellular telephony company.