Lebanese official arrested for faking evidence against actor accused of spying for Israel

After prominent actor and playwright Ziad Itani was arrested last year for “collaborating” with Israel, the Lebanese authorities have arrested a former senior official for framing the actor. According to various reports, Major Susan Hajj Hobeiche had hired a hacker to fake conversations between Itani and an Israeli woman.
Ziad Itani Photo Credit: Facebook screenshot/Ziad Itani

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) is investigating a senior police official for fabricating evidence against Lebanese actor and playwright Ziad Itani, who was arrested last year for “collaborating with the Israeli enemy.” In November, Lebanese reports claimed Itani had admitted to the charges against him.

Major Susan Hajj Hobeiche, the former head of the Cybercrime Office in the Lebanese security forces, is suspected of hiring a hacker to fake conversations and implicate Itani for having had communications with an Israeli woman, said reports in Lebanon. Itani was also charged with monitoring groups of high-ranking political officials and establishing ties with their associates in order to obtain detailed information about their lives.

Once considered one of the most powerful women in Lebanon, Hobeiche was reportedly removed from her position as head of the Cybercrime office in October due to her activity on social media. According to Lebanese reports, Itani had taken a screenshot of Hobeiche’s “like” of a tweet by a Lebanese director, which led to her removal. The tweet concerned Saudi Arabia’s recent decree allowing women to drive. Hobeiche’s claimed at the time that she had accidentally liked the tweet believing she was expressing support for Saudi women's rights.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouk, addressing the incident on Friday in a post on his Twitter account, said all Lebanese people must apologize to the “honorable” Itani who has never “abandoned” his nation. Additional officials are reportedly expected to be arrested for their involvement in the affair.

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