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Three Lebanese charged with spying for Israel

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s military prosecutor indicted three Lebanese with spying for Israel on Wednesday as part of an espionage investigation lasting nearly a year in which at least 27 suspects have been detained.

If convicted, the three could be given death sentences. In the indictment, Judge Samih al-Haj said the suspects had given Israel information on civil and military locations and on political figures.

One of the three was indicted in absentia. Israel has not commented on the arrests.

Hezbollah, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed military and political group, has called for the death penalty for all suspects convicted of spying for Israel. Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006.

The wave of detentions began in April 2009 with the arrest of a former brigadier general of the General Security directorate.

Senior Lebanese security officials have said the arrests dealt a major blow to Israel’s spying networks in Lebanon and that many of the suspects played key roles in identifying Hezbollah targets that were bombed during the 34-day war.

Other suspects have been charged with monitoring senior Hezbollah officials and at least one is alleged to have played a role in the 2004 assassination of a commander of the group.

Last week, a Lebanese man was sentenced to death for masterminding a bombing in southern Lebanon that killed a senior member of a Palestinian militant group and his brother in 2006.

Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Charles Dick