Israeli Arabs accused of spying for Hezbollah

Israeli Arabs accused of spying for Hezbollah
# 28 May 2010 04:57 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Israeli prosecutors have charged activists Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said with spying for Lebanese militant group, APA reports quoting website.
Two prominent Arab citizens of Israel were yesterday accused of spying on behalf of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, charges that would earn hefty prison terms if the men were convicted.
Ameer Makhoul, 52, was charged at Haifa district court of assisting an enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage and contact with a foreign agent. Omar Said, 50, was accused at Nazareth district court of contact with foreign agents and passing information to an enemy. Both men deny the charges.
Makhoul, the director of an Arab rights group, Ittijah, was arrested on 6 May, and Said, also a political activist, was arrested on 24 April. They were denied access to legal representation for about two weeks.
Adalah, a group representing Arab citizens in Israel, claimed both men had been subjected to severe interrogation methods and sleep deprivation while in custody.
Makhoul’s family said: "The Shin Bet and the Israeli establishment should be indicted for using torture and banned interrogation methods to trample democratic freedoms and human rights."
The indictment claimed Makhoul met Hezbollah agents in Denmark in 2008 and agreed to pass information to them, according to reports in the Israeli media. He was allegedly asked for details of the security surrounding Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin and a Mossad base in central Israel.
Gag orders on the Said case were imposed immediately after his arrest and lifted after being widely flouted by bloggers.
Both men have a track record of campaigning about discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel. Makhoul’s family has accused the authorities of political persecution.
Yesterday a "citizen loyalty" bill, proposed by the right wing Yisrael Beitenu party, which demands that Israel revokes the citizenship of any person convicted of activity or espionage on behalf of groups such as Hezbollah, passed its first reading.