Cyprus court detains Israel attack plot suspect

NICOSIA Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:31am EDT

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NICOSIA (Reuters) - A man suspected of planning attacks on Israeli interests in Cyprus was detained by a court on the island on Monday, as Israel's leader once again accused Hezbollah militants and Iran over the alleged plot.

The 24-year-old suspect, whose name has not been disclosed, was arrested in the Cypriot port city of Limassol on July 7, on suspicion of tracking the movements of Israeli tourists. He is a Swedish national of Lebanese origin.

Israel said he was planning an attack similar to a suicide bus bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas which killed five Israelis last week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.S. "Fox News Sunday" television program that the "modus operandi" of the Cyprus suspect was similar to that used by the Burgas bomber.

He said he had "rock-solid" intelligence that Lebanon's Hezbollah group, backed by Iran, was responsible. Tehran has denied any involvement.

The suspect on Monday appeared at a Limassol court which ordered his remand until July 27 pending completion of police inquiries.

He was held on suspicion of espionage and conspiring to commit a crime, said those present at the hearing, held behind closed doors with only police and his lawyer present.

Authorities are investigating 10 charges against him, they said, without giving further details.

The suspect was arrested at a hotel two days after his arrival from London. Lists of locations frequented by Israeli tourists were found on him, according to media reports which have not been disputed by authorities.

A senior Cypriot government source said he was picked up after a tip-off from British intelligence.

The suspect has not been charged. Under Cypriot law police can obtain court-sanctioned detention orders at regular intervals until an investigation is concluded either by formal charges or the release of the detainee.

Israel, the United States and other western countries consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Israel says it has foiled several Hezbollah attacks on its citizens abroad.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Pravin Char)

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