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Female activist Kinda Khatib indicted by military court in Lebanon for 'spying for Israel'

Kinda al-Khatib has been charged by a military court for 'spying for Israel' [Amnesty International/Twitter]

Date of publication: 3 September, 2020

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A military court in Lebanon has indicted political activist Kinda Khatib on charges of spying for Israel.
Lebanese activist Kinda el-Khatib was indicted by a military court on Wednesday for allegedly spying for Israel, The Daily Star reported quoting a state-run news agency, charges her family strongly deny.

Military Investigative Judge Najat Abu Shakra indicted Khatib on charges of communicating with Israeli agents and allegedly breaking Lebanon's boycott of Israel.

The indictment reportedly relates to Khatib's alleged "desire" to see the border between Israel and Lebanon opened and accusations that she offered help on how Israel could improve its image in the country, Al-Akhbar reported.

The pro-Hezbollah newspaper also said Khatib is accused of facilitating an interview between an Israeli TV channel and Charbel Hage, a Lebanese government opponent based in the US.

She also stands accused of providing security information about Lebanon to a Kuwaiti intelligence officer whom she met near the Dead Sea, The Daily Star reported.

Khatib, who has been active in the anti-corruption protests which began in Lebanon last September, was arrested in June in her hometown of Akkar in the north of the country.

She was referred to a military court and accused of "working with the Israeli enemy", "entering occupied Palestinian territory", and "working with Israeli spies and operatives".

Her family strongly deny the charges and many believe she was arrested due to her criticism of President Michel Aoun.

Security sources maintained at the time that her arrest was based on suspicions that she had allegedly entering the Palestinian territories, occupied by Israel since 1967.

A campaign was launched on social media by Hezbollah supporters at the time of her arrest accusing her of being an Israeli agent.

A security source told pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar that Kinda's arrest was based on "evidence from the General Security that proves her involvement in contact with people inside Israel".

She was accused of "providing information to the Israelis" as well as entering Israel during a trip to Jordan.

Her family are convinced that "her file was ready before her arrest" and insist Kinda's Twitter account was hacked and her opposition to Hezbollah was also fabricated.

Accusations of contact

Kinda is one of a number of anti-government activists to be arrested by Lebanese authorities.

An increasing number of activists in Lebanon are being arrested for social media posts criticising the government's handling of the weakening economy, the currency crash, and the coronavirus outbreak.

This is also not the first time the Lebanese government has used accusations of contact with Israel as a pretext to detain opponents of the government.

In 2017, Lebanese security forces arrested and tortured actor Ziad Itani, forcing him to sign a confession that he collaborated with Israel. The accusations were later proven false and he was released, although in 2019 he was summoned for interrogation again by security forces.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war, and a United Nations' force is currently tasked with monitoring a ceasefire on their shared border.

According to Kinda's sister, Yasmine, the 23-year-old is currently completing her Master's studies in English literature at the Deanship of the Lebanese University in Beirut, and she is active on social media.

She worked as a translator for a period of time with the "International Society for Parliamentary Elections" in the year 2018.

Read more: Where does STL verdict leave Hezbollah and the search for accountability in Lebanon?

"There is complete ambiguity about her file, and they did not allow us to communicate with her, except for the moment she was transferred via the military police in Beirut,” her sister told Al-Modon.

On her trip to Jordan, her sister said: "She travelled to Jordan with Bandar Tours at the invitation of one of her friends and they returned to Lebanon after about four days."

She continued: "It is strange that during the investigations they accused her of entering the occupied territories eight times, then three times, then only once."

Agencies contributed to this report.

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