December 13, 2011
Australian citizen admits to spying for Hamas
An Australian citizen pleaded guilty to charges of spying for Hamas.
Eyad Rashid Abu Arja, who is Palestinian-born and holds dual Jordanian citizenship, was detained in Tel Aviv in March on charges of “activities on behalf of an illegal organization”.
Hamas is classified as a terrorist group under Israeli law.
Under the terms of a plea bargain submitted to an Israeli court, Arja admitted to espionage for the Gaza-based group while on a visit to Israel.
He had been coerced into the mission by Hamas operatives in Saudi Arabia, his attorney, Leah Tsemel, said. “He’s a person who bumped into activists of the Hamas and attempted, or rendered some very, very shallow services to them. He’s in no way a terrorist,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Monday.
Arja, a computer scientist, is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 5 to 30 months in prison.
The indictment cites photographing commercial centers, collecting maps and making contact with businesses in Israel, according to an Agence France Press report.