Lebanon News

Itani hacker charged with making up evidence in case of Army officer

BEIRUT: A military prosecutor Wednesday charged accused hacker Elie Ghabash of fabricating evidence that led to the arrest of a Lebanese Army officer, a judicial source told The Daily Star. Military Prosecutor Peter Germanos charged Ghabash with “criminal libel, forgery, and fabrication of evidence of the crime of collaborating with Israel.” These charges were made in relation to the wrongful detention of Army officer Ivak Daghim.

Germanos referred Ghabash to First Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghaida and issued a warrant for his arrest, which was a formality since Ghabash is already in detention for his suspected involvement in the separate case of actor Ziad Itani.

The judicial source told The Daily Star that Ghabash had fabricated the evidence against Daghim because of disagreements between the officer and Ghabash’s father and brother.

Ghabash reportedly sent the fabricated evidence to State Security, causing Daghim to be arrested and detained for 54 days for a crime it was later determined he did not commit.

The charge against Ghabash was issued after he was arrested as a suspect in the much-publicized case against Itani.

The actor was arrested on Nov. 24 on charges of collaborating with Israel. He was released Tuesday, and arrest warrants were issued for Ghabash and former Internal Security Forces Cyber-Crimes Bureau chief Maj. Suzan Hobeiche, who are accused of being involved in fabricating evidence that led to Itani’s arrest.

Hobeiche is suspected of tasking Ghabash with fabricating the evidence after Hobeiche accused Itani of taking screenshots showing she had “liked” a controversial tweet that led to the loss of her job, according to reports.

Hobeiche has denied employing Ghabash to fabricate evidence, while – according to a judicial source – Ghabash said Tuesday that Hobeiche was the only reason he had heard of Itani.

Itani had initially confessed to the charges of spying, though he reiterated upon his release that he had only done so because he had been beaten at the beginning of his 109-day detention. “No one has been wronged as I was,” Itani told local media as he left the Directorate General of the Internal Security Forces Tuesday. “The heroes at the [ISF’s] Information Branch saved us from a scandal of the ages.” State Security earlier this month denied that Itani had been subjected to any form of physical or psychological torture to extract a confession, “contrary to Itani’s lawyer’s claims.”

After his release, Itani met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. “Today, justice has prevailed,” Hariri said in the televised encounter. “The government proved that the way it works and the processes it uses can produce good work.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 15, 2018, on page 3.




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