Israel Jails Dane for Conspiring With Hezbollah to Visit as a Tourist and Gather Military Information

Tel Aviv District Court yesterday sentenced a Danish citizen accused of conspiring with Hezbollah to 33 months in jail, in accordance with a plea bargain Iyad al-Ashwah had made with the prosecution.

Ashwah, 40, was born in Lebanon and returned there in 2004 to visit his relatives. While there, his brother allegedly put him in contact with a Hezbollah member, who suggested Ashwah assist the organization by arriving in Israel as a tourist, collecting information on military bases and handing over names of people in Israel who would potentially cooperate with Hezbollah.

Upon his return to Denmark, Ashwah allegedly agreed to the offer from Hezbollah and was promised $2,000 to fund his trip to Israel. In December 2004, Ashwah arrived in Israel with a new passport that had no border stamps on it. He was arrested while traveling on a train from Nahariya to Haifa after he raised the suspicions of a security official on the train who saw him taking pictures through the window.

Ashwah's attorney, Leah Tsemel, argued the act had not been fully formulated and said there was an element of regret. The judges wrote the incident does not show an ideological identification between Ashwah and Hezbollah and that the sentence was balanced.