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ISRAELI AMIR MAKHUL CHARGED WITH ESPIONAGE

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Israeli prosecutors have charged, on 05/27/2010, two Israeli Arab activists, Amir  Makhul (pic) and Omar Sayid, with spying for Hizbullah.

Amir  Makhul, a Christian Arab in his early 50s’, who was arrested in Haifa on 05/06/2010, and Omar Sayid confessed that they passed information about Israeli bases to the Lebanese Hizbullah. They sent information to their Lebanese contacts over the internet using sophisticated encryption programmes, prosecutors said. Lawyers for the accused men say their confessions were made under duress.

The men were interrogated by Shin Bet, the Israeli secret service.

The case had been subject to an Israeli court gagging order which has now been lifted. The charges say both men met Hezbollah agents in 2008.

According to the indictment Amir  Makhul met a Lebanese businessman on a trip to Denmark, and Omar Sayid met a man in a cafe in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. The two men agreed to pass information about Shin Bet, the Israeli Defense Forces and other military installations in Northern Israel. Israeli authorities said Amir  Makhul passed along information about security facilities in Israel, including some sites belonging to the Israeli spy agency the Mossad, the domestic intelligence agency Shin.Bet and defense contractor Rafael (see also – Secret-War).

They were also asked to recommend other people that Hizbullah could contact who might be open to working with them.

It was alleged that Amir  Makhul had placed encryption software on his laptop computer to aid communication with his handlers, but had destroyed the laptop after the arrest of another alleged agent. Amir  Makhul was also charged with giving details of the home address of the head of the Shin.Bet.

Adalah, the Legal Centre for ISRAELI ARABS Minority Rights in Israel, which represents the men, says the charges are false.

Amir  Makhul was charged in a Haifa district court, while Omar Sayid appeared at a district court in Nazareth.

Amir  Makhul is the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, the brother of a former Israeli-Arab member of Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, and an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

Omar Sayid is a member of the Israeli-Arab political party Balad.

When he was brought into the court Omar Sayid, 50, looked tired.  The media are barred from sitting in court during preliminary hearings but they were allowed to ask questions of Omar Sayid before the judge entered. He denied the charges and said he had been forced to make a confession.
 Amir  Makhul was sentenced, on Sunday 01/30/2011, to 9 years in jail.
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