Lebanese Christians face death for contacting Israel

December 05, 2001

Attached below is an article from The Associated Press on Lebanese Christians who now face the death penalty for contacting Israel, and meeting with Israeli officials. No trial date has been set.

-- Tom Gross


Lebanese Christians face death for contacting Israeli officials
The Associated Press
December 5, 2001

A military prosecutor today charged three Lebanese Christians with contacting Israel and meeting officials from the Jewish state, crimes punishable by death.

Military prosecutor Abdullah al-Haj also charged the men with harming Lebanon's relations with Syria.

Those charged were journalist Antoine Bassil; a senior official of the disband Lebanese Forces group, Toufic Hindy; and Ghassan Touma, one of the group's security chiefs during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.

The Lebanese Forces was banned in 1994 and its leader Samir Geagea has been in jail since for killing political enemies.

Bassil and Hindy were arrested in a two-week security crackdown in August that netted about 250 Christian activists opposed to Syria's 25,000 troops in Lebanon.

Touma remains at large and is believed to be living in the United States.

The three are expected to be referred to a military court.

No trial date has been set.

Al-Haj said Hindy had resumed contacts with Israel in 1995 and since then met several Israeli officials. Al-Haj said Bassil had arranged the meetings, some of which Touma had attended.

Among the Israeli officials who Hindy and Touma met was Uri Lubrani, the Israeli government coordinator for south Lebanon during Israel's 18-year occupation, court documents said.

Habib Younis, a senior editor at the Beirut bureau of the London-based and Saudi-owned Al Hayat, is also under detention and was similarly charged in August.

Authorities said that Bassil had worked for Middle East Television, which was run by the South Lebanon Army, the pro-Israeli militia that aided Israeli occupation troops in southern Lebanon until they withdrew last year.

While Lebanon considers itself at war with Israel and bans any contact with it, it is closely allied with Arab neighbor Syria, the main power-broker in Lebanon. Some Christian opposition leaders strongly oppose Syria's military and political influence in Lebanon.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.