Lebanon releases actor accused of 'collaborating' with Israel

Lebanon releases actor Ziad Itani accused of collaborating with Israel
2 min read
13 March, 2018
Lebanese authorities have released a stage actor who was indicted on charges of collaborating with Israel and drug possession
The case has taken a bizarre turn as it emerged the allegations were fabricated [AFP]

Lebanese authorities have released a stage actor who was indicted on charges of collaborating with Israel and drug possession, and have ordered the arrest of the security officer who built the case against him.

The office of the chief military prosecutor released a statement on Tuesday saying it had ordered the release of Ziad Itani, who was arrested in November.

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

The prosecutor's statement did not say why the security officer, Lt. Col. Suzan Hobeiche, former head of the anti-cybercrime unit, had been arrested.

Local media, which have heavily covered the arrest and subsequent exoneration, said Hobeiche had fabricated the case against Itani based on his public social media profile and contacts.

The former Lebanese security official was arrested after allegedly framing the actor in a revenge scheme falsely linking him to Israel.

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

It is believed her firing came after 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.