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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Israeli citizen with German passport arrested for espionage in Beirut

An Israeli citizen carrying a German passport has been arrested in Beirut and charged with espionage as a result of a murder investigation in which his passport picture was found at the crime scene. The man, Daniel Mussa Sharon, speaks Arabic fluently and has visited Lebanon eleven times in the last two years using his German passport.
According to Lebanese publication Al-Akhbar Wa-Sapir, Sharon was arrested on Thursday during an investigation into the murder of a Lebanese citizen.

During questioning, it emerged that Sharon had visited Lebanon 11 times on his German passport over the last two years. He denied allegations he was on an espionage mission and said he was in Lebanon for leisure purposes, according to the source.

Media reports said that police in the Merje area, a hotbed of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement in Beirut's southern suburbs, were investigating the killing of Moussa al-Shalaani when the probe led them to Sharon.

Al-Shalaani had been shot with a gun belonging to a security officer who had been his roommate. The roommate was summoned for questioning, and maintained that he had lost his gun.

The roommate also said that during the time of the murder, he had been with his German friend who was residing at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Beirut's luxurious Verdun neighbourhood. A hotel employee told the police that Sharon had paid him to not write his full name on any documents.


"But further investigations into the case showed that Sharon had a friend in the Lebanese security offices who used to facilitate his entries to Lebanon and with the help of a hotel clerk he managed to hide his real name," the source added.

A Lebanese security agent was also held for questioning about his relations with the Israeli man after the two maintained contacts through the Internet, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Lebanon forbids any contacts or dealings with Israel.

Lebanon's General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza said investigations were underway into how the story was leaked to the press.

During questioning, it emerged that Sharon is well-versed regarding Lebanon, speaks Arabic well and knows how to use he language's many idioms. According to reports, Sharon learned Arabic in the United Arab Emirates from a teacher of Bahraini citizenship. The Lebanese media reported that Sharon kept his cool during questioning and denied accusations that he was a spy.

The media also reported that Sharon had visited Lebanon 11 times since 2005, once immediately prior to the Second Lebanon War with Israel last summer. His last visit was four days prior to his arrest, and he was scheduled to leave on the day of his arrest.

It later emerged that Sharon had sent his security officer friend on trips abroad on several occasions, and in exchange the man helped Sharon within Lebanon.
YNet adds:
The report said Sharon further told the investigators he had converted to Judaism and that his full name was Daniel Moussa Sharon and that he was born in 1975. He initially said his father was a Jew of Turkish descent, but later claimed that his father was actually a Syrian-Jew who immigrated to Israel in 1959.

Sharon said he was able to obtain his German passport through his family's connections, adding that he had learned Arabic in the United Arab Emirates and that he also visited Egypt and Jordan on a regular basis.

The investigation also revealed that Sharon had visited Lebanon 11 times since 2005 and that he spent a month there prior to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War.

Sharon's latest trip to the country began four days ago, and he was supposed to leave on Thursday.
I'd believe he's a spy. If it hadn't been for the murder, it sounds like he never would have been caught.

Update 12:31 AM

A Lebanese report calls the arrest "simple luck" and said that a copy of Sharon's Israeli passport was found in the Lebanese apartment where the murder took place.

Israel Radio said this evening that Al-Akhbar was careful not to call him a spy, and I saw speculation in the Lebanese media that he was a drug dealer who was in Lebanon to buy drugs.


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