BEIRUT: A Lebanese Army officer and a Palestinian correspondent for Time magazine, both of whom are accused of planning to smuggle arms into Syria, were released on bail Wednesday. Judicial sources told The Daily Star that Maj. Wissam Abdel-Khaleq and his brother-in-law Rami Aysha, who works for Time and several other foreign news agencies in Lebanon, were freed on LL600,000 bail each.
The sources said Abdel-Khaleq, from the Bekaa village of Majdal Anjar, was taken to a hospital upon his release for treatment for a fracture to his jaw.
The Lebanese Army issued a statement later saying Abdel-Khaleq’s arrest took place on the instructions of the relevant judiciary which supervised investigation and detention.
They said the two were apprehended by Hezbollah agents in Beirut’s southern suburbs late in August while Aysha, accompanied by the Army officer, was ostensibly researching an article on arms smuggling.
Abdel-Khaleq, with LL50 million in a briefcase, was preparing to buy arms to smuggle them to the rebel Free Syrian Army, the sources said. A third person who acted as a mediator between the arms dealer and Aysha apparently tipped off Hezbollah about the rendezvous.
When Hezbollah handed the two men to judicial authorities a day after they were picked up, they had already been badly beaten, the sources said.
Aysha’s lawyer Saliba al-Hajj told The Daily Star that his client was innocent of the alleged crime.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 27, 2012, on page 3.