(AFP) BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanese authorities arrested prominent writer and actor Ziad Itani on Friday on charges of “collaborating” with Israel and gathering information on political figures, judicial sources said.
Itani was detained “after several months of monitoring, follow-up and investigations within and outside” Lebanon, said the State Security Directorate General, in a statement carried by Lebanon’s National News Agency.
It said Itani, who is in his 40s, was being questioned “on charges of collaborating and communicating with the Israeli enemy.”
He had allegedly confessed to having been “tasked to monitor a group of high-level political figures” and their associates.
The security services also said he had been assigned the job of collecting information on “two prominent political figures” whose identities would be disclosed at a later stage.
Itani has shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut, its customs and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.
The works — particularly “Beirut Tariq al-Jdideh,” which refers to a majority-Sunni neighbourhood of the city — have been very well-received.
Before becoming an actor, Itani worked as a reporter with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television channel and with various regional newspapers.