Lebanon – Rights activist calls for end to brutality in dealing with spy suspects

(The Daily Star, November 30, 2010)

The Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights called for respecting the rights of suspected spies, during a workshop against the death penalty it held Monday.

Several experts took part in the workshop and the foundation’s executive director Wael Kheir linked human rights to the freedom of the press, saying a free press played a major role in protecting human rights.

Human rights activist and attorney Antoine Saad then detailed a number of violations being committed against inmates suspected of dealing with Israel.

Arresting suspects for several months without permitting family visits or meetings with an attorney, exceeding the legal limit of temporary detention, beating the arrested suspects and traumatizing them were among the violations Saad mentioned.

The activist called for the correct sanction to be given for each crime, arguing that, for example, an involuntary phone call to Israel could not be punished in the same way as an intentional one.

“Threats of killing the families of suspects have appeared on the websites of some political parties,” Saad said, adding that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah repeatedly said some of the detainees might be innocent.

In April 2009, Lebanon – which is technically in a state of war with Israel – launched a nationwide crackdown on Israeli spy cells, arresting nearly 100 people, including members of the country’s security forces and telecommunications personnel, on suspicion of spying for Israel’s notorious intelligence service, the Mossad.