Victim of Israeli secret operation denies extremist links

Federal judges are hearing the first-ever case against a Mossad agent outside Israel Keystone

A Swiss-Lebanese man, allegedly spied upon by Israeli secret agents in Switzerland, has denied any connections with Arab extremist organisations. He was speaking at the trial of an Israeli agent.

This content was published on July 4, 2000 - 16:56

The Lebanese witness, Abdallah el-Zein, told the court that he ran an Islamic centre in Switzerland with links to Lebanon and Iran, but said its activities were chiefly concerned with promoting friendship and sport.

Swiss federal police believe that such centres - known as Ahl el-Beit - are used to recruit extremists loyal to Iran.

El-Zein also told the court he had no connection with the Hezbollah guerrilla group, which is backed by Iran. He said he had never taken part in any extremist activity against Israeli interests.

The Federal Court in Lausanne began hearing charges on Monday against a Mossad agent, charged with carrying out illegal acts against a foreign state and using a false passport.

The agent was detained, along with four other Israelis, in February 1998 during a failed attempt to wiretap El-Zein's home on the outskirts of Berne. The four other Israelis were freed immediately, but the secret agent had to return to Switzerland after being released on bail.

El-Zein, who is married to a Swiss, said he spent most of his time in Vevey. He told the court he only occasionally used the apartment in Berne, which was the target of the Israeli operation.

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