Lebanese State Security arrested Lebanese actor Ziad Itani Friday on suspicion of spying and collaborating with Israel.
A statement released by State Security said that Itani was believed to have been providing information to and communicating with Israel.
Itani’s arrest came “after careful surveillance for months inside and outside of Lebanon and after direct orders by [State Security chief] Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba.”
The actor has reportedly admitted to charges.
The statement said Itani confessed to monitoring high-ranking politicians and establishing relationships with those close to them in order to find out information about their everyday lives and work, focusing on their movements.
Itani also admitted to “giving a lot of information on two prominent politicians,” whose identities State Security said will be revealed in later statements.
Itani was said to have been working to normalize relations with Israel and promoting Zionist ideologies among intellectuals.
The statement reported that Itani “provided information on the reactions among Lebanese from all sects after the most recent political developments in Lebanon over the last two weeks,” referring to the crisis that surrounded Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s surprise resignation on Nov. 4.
State Security said it had transferred Itani’s case to the judiciary, and that more information will be provided to the Lebanese public at a later date.
A high-ranking judicial source told The Daily Star that Itani was detained on suspicion of collaborating with the “Israeli enemy.”
When asked about the accuracy of reports Itani was providing information on Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to facilitate a potential assassination attempt, the source said investigations were focused on his communication with Israel “at this point.”
Itani has recently been performing at Teatro Verdun in Beirut. Before that, he performed regularly at Hamra’s Metro al-Madina.
Yehya Jaber, director of Itani’s play “Beirut … Al-Tariq al-Jadideh” at Hamra’s Metro al-Madina said, “I spoke to him about a week ago, but I know nothing just like you.”
He told The Daily Star that he was waiting for investigations to be completed before commenting further.
Another source from Metro said they were shocked to hear the news. “I saw a post on Facebook accusing him of collaborating with Israel. Like what the f—?” the source said.
When asked when the last time there was contact with Itani, the source said, “We run into each other occasionally but he stopped performing at the Metro about 1 1/2 years ago.”
This article has been edited by Al Bawaba from its original version