Former Lebanese intelligence official accused of framing actor over 'Israel links'

Former Lebanese intelligence official accused of framing actor over 'Israel links'
A former Lebanese security official allegedly took revenge on the man who got her sacked, by alleging the actor and writer was passing on classified information to Israel.
2 min read
04 March, 2018
Actor Ziad Atani was detained after being accused of links to Israel [AFP]

A former Lebanese security official has been arrested after allegedly framing an actor in a revenge scheme falsely linked him to Israel.

Suzan Hajj Hobeiche was once a leading figure in Lebanon's intelligence agency but was sacked in November.

It came after Lebanese actor and writer Ziad Itani shared a screenshot showing that Hobeiche had "liked" a tweet that said that Saudi women will only be allowed to drive if their vehicles are rigged with explosives.

Hobeiche claimed this was a mistake and blamed Itani for her dismissal, which came amid heightened tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Hobeiche then allegedly tried to take revenge by hiring a hacker to make it appear the actor was passing on information about Lebanese officials to a female Israeli Mossad agent.

Itani was arrested and charged in November by Lebanese security forces "after several months of monitoring, follow-up and investigations within and outside". He has been in jail ever since.

The hacker has now reportedly confessed to the crime.

Itani is expected to be released shortly after Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouk confirmed the actor’s innocence on Twitter. 

"All Lebanese apologise for Ziad Itani. Innocence is not enough. Pride in him and his patriotism is the only undisputed truth. Woe to the haters, the ignorant, the sectarians who couldn't find a target more honourable, the true Beiruti and Arab who never betrayed his country." 

Collaborating with Israel can be punishable with death in Lebanon as the two countries are still technically at war.

Security officials have gone after members of Lebanon’s arts scene over alleged links to Israel. 

Movies that have any ties to Israel are frequently banned in the country.

Itani is a former journalist and now actor whose plays have been warmly welcomed in Lebanon, presenting an honest portrayal of life in Beirut.