Lebanese comedian, spying for Israel, arrested

A file photo taken on July 18, 2013, shows Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 25 November 2017
0

Lebanese comedian, spying for Israel, arrested

BEIRUT: Lebanon was shocked on Friday by the arrest of the writer and actor Ziad Itani for what a security source called “collaborating with Israel over the past three years.”
Itani, a comedian and playwright, was arrested on Thursday evening while returning home in the Ain Al-Rammaneh district in Beirut. Security sources said that he plotted to assassinate Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk and monitored Abdul Rahim Mrad, a former minister.
A security forces statement said: “On 23/11/2017, the State Security Directorate General carried out a quality proactive operation in counterintelligence, and it arrested the Lebanese citizen called Ziad Ahmed Itani, who is an actor, director and playwright (born in Beirut 1975), on charges of collaborating and communicating with Israeli enemy. A specialized unit for the State Security, following monitoring, tracking and investigating for several months inside and outside Lebanese territories, and on direct instructions from the General Director, Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba, confirmed the crime against the suspect Ziad Itani.”
The statement said the suspect admitted to the tasks he was assigned in Lebanon, including “monitoring a group of prominent political figures, and strengthening relations with their close associates, in order to get as much details as possible about their lives, occupations, and especially their movements, and providing his operators with detailed information about two prominent political figures, whose identities will be revealed in our following statements. (The tasks also included) establishing a Lebanese nucleus to support the concept of normalization with Israel, promote Zionist ideas among the intellectuals, and provide his operators with reports about the reaction of the Lebanese society in all its aspects after the political developments which occurred during the past two weeks in Lebanon.”
The security sources added that Itani, according to his confessions, was in touch with a woman who was supposed to come to Lebanon on Dec. 2, and he booked a hotel for her in the Mount Lebanon area.
State Security seized communication equipment from Itani’s home, including a laptop and three cellphones he was using for communication, according to security sources.
Itani became famous in the past few years after he presented the comedy “Beirut Al-Jadideh Road,” which talked about changing traditions in Beirut, and “Beirut on the Tree,” which he presented for many years. He took part in many TV satirical programs. 


Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

Updated 16 July 2018
0

Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

  • The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector
  • Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces in the southern oil-rich province of Basra have started arresting protesters who took part in the week-long demonstrations there to demand more jobs and better services, activists said Monday.
Protests in the city of Basra, the provincial capital and Iraq’s second-largest city, are not unusual in scorching summer weather but they boiled over last Tuesday, when security forces opened fire, killing one person and wounding five.
Within days the rallies spread to other provinces. In some places, protesters broke into local government buildings and burned the offices of some political parties.
The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector, and an urgent allocation of 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($3 billion) for electricity and water projects. It blamed “infiltrators” for the damages.
The arrests started on Sunday night, with police chasing protesters down main roads and alleys following demonstrations in the city of Basra, and also in the countryside and around oil fields, two activists told The Associated Press.
The activists could not give a specific number for those arrested, saying only “hundreds.” They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Officials were not immediately available to comment.
The activists said Internet was back on after a two-day shutdown, but a heavy deployment of security forces outside the local government building in Basra prevented protesters from gathering there Monday.
Police also closed off surrounding streets with barbed wire.
Meanwhile, authorities reopened the country’s second-busiest airport, in the city of Najaf, following a two-day shutdown after a mob broke into the facility on Friday, damaging the passenger terminal and vandalizing equipment.
Transportation Minister Kadhim Finjan Al-Hamai was at the Najaf airport to announce the reopening on the Iraqi state TV as an Iraqi Airways plane landed behind him. He said 18 local and international flights were to land on Monday.
The shutdown had caused “heavy losses” to the government, the airport and airline companies, he said without elaborating.
Kuwait Airways, the Royal Jordanian and Iran’s Aviation Authority suspended their flights to Najaf on Sunday, citing security concerns. The United Arab Emirates’ FlyDubai canceled Saturday’s flights to Najaf and said it was suspending its flights until July 22.
Iraq’s vital Um Qasr port on the Arabian Gulf, and two main border crossings — Safwan with Kuwait and Shalamcheh with Iran — were closed to both passengers and goods as protesters had blocked the main roads leading to the sites.
Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels. It is located on the Arabian Gulf bordering Kuwait and Iran, and is Iraq’s only hub these days for all oil exports to the international market.