US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday made an unannounced visit to Lebanon where she was to meet with President Michel Sleiman.
The visit was widely publicised on Lebanese television.
Clinton's visit, her first to Lebanon since taking office, comes as the tiny Mediterranean country prepares for June legislative elections that could see the militant group Hezbollah emerge victorious.
Washington is a staunch backer of the national unity government in Lebanon, which is led by a Western-backed prime minister, and has expressed concern at the possibility of Hezbollah and its allies, which are supported by Syria and Iran, winning the June 7 vote.
Lebanon Arrests 3 on Charges of Spying for Israel
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The authorities in Lebanon arrested three men on Saturday on charges of spying for Israel, the latest chapter in a long-running intelligence war between the countries that has led to the arrests of at least nine people here over the past year.
The three men arrested Saturday, two Lebanese and one Palestinian, do not appear to have worked together, said a Lebanese security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He identified the Lebanese men as Ali Mantash and Robert Kfoury, and the Palestinian as Mohammad Awad.
Lebanon considers Israel, which carried out a major bombing campaign here during the 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006, an enemy state. If convicted, collaborators could receive the death penalty.
The arrests on Saturday were based on information from Adeeb al-Alam, a retired Lebanese general who was arrested this month and charged with spying for Israel for over at least a decade. Mr. Alam traveled regularly to Europe to meet with Israeli officials, and at their behest he set up a business that brought women to Lebanon to work as maids to help disguise his activities, Lebanese security officials said.
Mr. Alam’s wife and nephew were also arrested and accused of spying with him.
It is not clear how long the three men arrested Saturday were believed to have spied for Israel.
In many cases, Hezbollah has discovered and captured spying suspects before handing them to the authorities in Lebanon. Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group, whose political wing has strong representation in the Parliament and cabinet, is the most powerful military force in Lebanon, and it is also widely thought to have the best intelligence network.
This year, Hezbollah captured Marwan Faqih, a businessman in Nabatiye who is believed to have sold dozens of cars to Hezbollah officials with tracking and listening devices inside them, on behalf of Israeli intelligence. Mr. Faqih was handed over to the authorities in Lebanon and charged with collaborating with Israel.
Last year, Hezbollah captured Ali al-Jarrah, a Lebanese man who was later charged with spying for Israel for 25 years. Lebanese prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Jarrah.