World News

Lebanese detained in UAE return to Beirut after talks

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Eight Lebanese detained in the United Arab Emirates landed in Beirut on Tuesday after Lebanon’s security chief said he had lobbied Abu Dhabi for their release.

Abbas Ibrahim told Reuters the eight had been in UAE custody from a few months to up to seven years, including some who had completed their sentence. He said 15 people would return in total, and 15 others were expected to be released soon as well.

This “came in the context of security files between Lebanon and the UAE which have been tackled”, he said.

UAE authorities declined to comment.

Airport sources and Lebanese state media said eight people arrived on Tuesday. A Lebanese official familiar with the matter said their charges were all related to allegedly “dealing with Hezbollah indirectly or directly.”

Gulf states, which once channelled funds into Lebanon, have grown wary in recent years, alarmed by the rising influence of the armed Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah movement which is backed by their arch-rival Iran.

Reporting by Laila Bassam, Alaa Kanaan and Maha El Dahan with additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Editing by Mark Heinrich