BEIRUT: The Information Branch of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces is investigating the role of a senior officer in fabricating evidence against Lebanese actor Ziad Itani who was arrested last year on charges of "collaborating" with Israel.
Major Susan Hajj Hobeiche, the former head of the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau, is suspected of hiring a hacker to frame Itani whom she blames for her ouster from her previous post, sources told Annahar.
Itani had reportedly taken a screenshot of Hobeiche’s like of a twitter post by Lebanese film director Charbel Khalil ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s royal decree allowing women to drive. The social media incident led to Hobeiche’s removal from her post, though she had claimed to have accidentally liked the filmmaker’s tweet, believing that it held a positive connotation regarding women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
State prosecutor judge Samir Hammoud confirmed on Saturday to Annahar that Hobeiche was being investigated among other suspects for her alleged role in Itani’s case.
Media reports said Hobeiche hired a hacker who “created fake accounts” so that Itani appears to be communicating with an Israeli agent. The hacker is reportedly an informant registered with State Security, the agency that detained and questioned Itani who was charged with collaborating with Israel in November 2017.
Itani is expected to be released soon after Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouk took to Twitter Friday to announce his innocence.
Mashnouk said the Lebanese should apologize to Itani, describing him as an “honorable” man who “has never abandoned his Arab and Beiruti identity for a single day.”
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