Late yesterday, Military Prosecutor Nasri Lahhoud announced the discovery of a spying network working for Israel. 77 people are accused of collaborating with Israel; 17 are already in custody and 60 are at large.
Some of them are accused of spying for Israel on the Lebanese Resistance, the Lebanese Army and Syrian troops in Lebanon and in some parts of Syria.
Lebanese law forbids citizens from contacting or dealing with Israel. Lahhoud demanded death sentences for some suspects and imprisonment for others. The indictment added the group was formed in 1995 to monitor military movements in areas outside the Israeli occupied zone and Syrian military bases east of Damascus.
The ring was uncovered after a tip-off from the deputy head of the Israeli allied militia's intelligence services in the eastern sector of the occupied zone, Raja Ward, who had surrendered to the Lebanese army two weeks ago.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today held talks at the presidential palace in Baabda with Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul concerning security investigations on the recently uncovered spying network.
Following a meeting with a delegation from the executive committee of the union of full-time professors in the Lebanese University, Hrawi stressed the important role of the Lebanese University in presenting the government with plans regarding economy, reconstruction, and education.
Also among the visitors of Baabda today a delegation from the Scouts Union for Arab Parliamentarians who are holding summer camps in the country.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's talks with his visitors today tackled the uncovering of the spying network accused of collaborating with Israel. His visitors reported his comfort at the security situation in the country.
They also praised security services for this important accomplishment. Hariri met deputies Fayez Ghoson, Assem Qansou, and Abraham Dadayan. Discussions centered on the general situation and the developmental needs of the areas they represent.
The premier later held talks with the Brazilian ambassador to Lebanon Bryan Michael Neil. Discussions centered on bilateral ties between the two countries. The Brazilian diplomat briefed the premier on the outcome of his visit to Brazil along with the president of the board of directors of the Beirut Bourse Gabriel Sahnaweh. He added their visit aimed at boosting economic cooperation between Lebanon and Brazil.
Hariri also received at government palace UNDP resident coordinator in Lebanon Ross Mountain in a farewell visit. Mountain discussed with the prime minister a number of developmental and social projects in the country.
Joint parliamentary committees today continued discussing the public sector pay scales draft law during its 8th session of talks headed by deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli and attended by Acting Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura and a number of deputies. The discussions were described today as sensitive. Sanyoura presented the deputies with a detailed report regarding retirement pensions. Sanyoura's report included the number of retired people in Lebanon and ways of calculating their retirement pensions. The committees ratified a draft law on retirement pensions presented by deputy Mohammed Abdel Hamid Baydoun and aimed at increasing these pensions. A suggestion by deputy Zaher Al-Khatib to increase pensions by 30% for all sections of the retired was dropped.
For the first time since last September and two weeks after Israel's release of a number of Lebanese detainees and bodies of martyrs as part of a swap operation, a number of Lebanese families today visited their detained loved ones in the Khiam center. The visits have been suspended as a result of the failed Israeli commando operation on Ansariyeh on September 5, 1997. The visit was organized by the International Red Cross Committee.
An ICRC convoy this morning carried around 34 family members to the prison of Khiam from the village of Nabtieh through the Kfar Tibnit border crossing. The families visited 14 detainees including Suha Bshara who has been detained for 10 years without trial or charges. Families said their happiness cannot be described. Najat Bshara, Suha's mother, said her daughter is in good physical and mental state. ICRC Lebanon Representative Jean Jacques Fresard had stated that Suha might be released soon. Suha was accused of an assassination attempt of the head of the Israeli Allied Militia in the South Antoine Lahd.
A press conference was held today at the press syndicate in preparation for July 14: the day of the Lebanese detainee in Israeli jails. It was attended by representatives of family committees, a number of officials and a representative of the Arab League. The conference was organized by the follow-up committee for Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails. Speakers called on the government to work on the release of all prisoners held by Israel. A number of prisoners have been detained for more than 10 years without trial or charges. Some of them suffer from serious illnesses as a result of maltreatment and systematic torture. Speakers also called on the government to assist former detainees re-integrate in society.
Around 125 Lebanese prisoners are still held in Khiam and another 50 are kept in prisons inside Israel.
Education Minister John Obeid today met a number of representatives of school teachers in a bid to discuss their demands. Teachers are refusing to correct official exams before their different demands are met. The teachers will be holding extensive talks during the next 24 hours to look into their strike. Obeid later discussed their demands with the head of the education parliamentary committee deputy Bahiyaa Al-Hariri.
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