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Lebanese actor indicted for allegedly collaborating with Israel

Prosecutors say Ziad Itani helped Israeli female spy collect information about Lebanese politicians and journalists

A file picture taken on July 18, 2013, shows Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. (AFP/Anwar Amro)
A file picture taken on July 18, 2013, shows Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

Lebanon’s chief military prosecutor has indicted an actor and writer on charges of collaborating with Israel and possessing drugs.

The prosecutor’s statement Thursday came nearly a week after Ziad Itani’s arrest. Itani was accused of collaborating with an Israeli female spy to collect information about Lebanese politicians and journalists.

The case has gripped Lebanon at a time of heightened domestic tension over the resignation of the Saudi-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

According to interrogation leaks, Itani reportedly collaborated with a Mossad agent to gather information about political developments following Hariri’s resignation, and specifically about an ally of the prime minister. Itani has apparently admitted to the charges.

No trial date has been set.

Lebanon and Israel are formally at war and collaborating with Israel can be punishable by death.

Lebanese authorities have said Itani was arrested “after several months of monitoring, follow-up and investigations within and outside” Lebanon.

Itani shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut, its customs and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.

The works — particularly “Beirut Tariq al-Jdideh,” which refers to a majority-Sunni neighbourhood of the city — have been very well-received.

Before becoming an actor, Itani worked as a reporter with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television channel and with various regional newspapers.

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