Lebanon Says Prominent Actor Arrested for 'Spying for Israel'

Among other tasks, Ziad Itani was instructed to cultivate relations with Lebanese figures who supported normalization with Israel, authorities say

Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. July 18, 2013.
Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. July 18, 2013. ANWAR AMRO/AFP

Lebanese authorities arrested a prominent actor and playwright on Thursday for allegedly spying on Israel's behalf, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported. According to the report, Ziad Itani confessed during interrogation to being in contact with Israeli intelligence agents.

According to a statement issued by Lebanon's State Security Forces, Itani was assigned to tasks that included gathering information about public figures in Israel, in part by establishing relationships with people close to them, and focused his attention on two prominent political figures who were not named.

The statement said Itani was also instructed to cultivate relations with Lebanese figures who supported normalization with Israel

According to the Lebanese media reports, the arrest of Itani, 42, followed several months of monitoring by Lebanese security forces. The forces gathered evidence of Itani's espionage activities as well as plans to carry out terror attacks designed to destabilize Lebanon. 

Friends and relatives of Itani confirmed the arrest but said there was no official statement regarding its circumstances.

Lebanese security and intelligence agencies recently arrested three Lebanese citizens for allegedly collaborating with Israel's Mossad espionage agency, the country's Al-Akhbar newspaper reported in October. According to the report, the three suspects admitted to being in contact with Israeli intelligence and instructed to gather information about activities of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The report said the suspects' handler was a Lebanese citizen living in Israel.

In May, Lebanese security forces announced the arrest of an Iraqi man for spying on Israel. According to the statement issued by the agency, the suspect confessed under interrogation to having been recruited by an individual from Israel's Defense Ministry.