Lebanese ally of Syria's Assad to be indicted

BEIRUT Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:34am EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A former Lebanese government minister with close ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be indicted for involvement in "terror plots," security sources said on Saturday.

The sources said Judge Sami Sader, the Lebanese deputy commissioner of the Military Tribunal, will indict Michel Samaha for charges including transporting explosives from Syria for use in north Lebanon.

Samaha's supporters said his detention was political after police arrested him at his house in the town of Metn northeast of Beirut in the early hours of Thursday.

Investigators had confiscated "three or four telephones, a laptop and two or three films," Malek al-Sayyed, a lawyer for Samaha, told al-Manar TV.

Samaha has been an outspoken supporter of Assad during the 17-month-old Syrian uprising, echoing an official Syrian narrative that portrays the anti-Assad opposition as terrorists.

Samaha served as a minister in three Lebanese governments between 1992 and 2004 - a period when Syria dominated politics and security in its smaller neighbour. Samaha is also a former member of parliament.

In 2007, he was named on a White House-issued list of Lebanese and Syrian figures suspected of working to undermine Lebanon's stability and the Western-backed Beirut government in office at the time.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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