Hack exposes Israeli link to Lebanese leader’s associates – The Times of Israel
A former Israeli political adviser communicated with an emissary of Christian Lebanese politician Samir Geagea in late 2014 as part of his ongoing correspondence with armed opposition members in Syria, a Lebanese daily revealed Thursday.
Al-Akhbar, a pro-Hezbollah daily that began last week to publish files hacked from the computer of Mendi Safadi, a Druze Israeli and former political adviser to Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara, cited an exchange between Safadi and Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
In the correspondence, which took place on November 26, 2014, Safadi informed Kuperwasser that a confidant of Geagea, who heads the Lebanese Forces party, was interested in sending an emissary to Israel to discuss the details of an unspecified “deal.” Safadi informed Kuperwasser that Geagea himself was meant to speak to him the following day and said the Lebanese leader was impatiently awaiting an Israeli response.
Geagea, the main Christian backer of the March 14 Alliance led by Saad Hariri and a bitter opponent of Hezbollah, was released from Lebanese prison in 2005 after serving 11 years for war crimes committed during the Lebanese Civil War.
Speaking to The Times of Israel on Thursday, Safadi claimed that the computer hack, which occurred at least seven months ago, did not reveal any connections between Syrian opposition members and Israeli officials that had not been previously known.
He confirmed having reached out to a man he believed had connections to Geagea, but said nothing came of it.
“I meet many Lebanese people, some by accident and others on purpose,” Safadi said. “In one of my travels abroad I met someone who raises funds for Syrian refugees. I noticed on his Facebook page a photo of someone standing next to Samir Geagea. I asked him who this guy was, and he said he was a friend who once met Geagea. It didn’t go anywhere from there.”
Safadi said the publication was intended to embarrass Lebanese leaders such as Geagea and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who both oppose the Assad regime.
Al-Akhbar published two additional articles on Thursday, elaborating on Safadi’s ties with members of the Free Syrian Army near the border with Israel, as well as his attempts to discover the whereabouts of missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad, whose airplane was downed over southern Lebanon in October 1986.
Safadi did not deny his attempts to discover the destiny of missing Israeli soldiers through his ties with Syrian opposition members.
“It is important for me that any mother whose son is missing will get him back,” he said. “It’s the most humanitarian thing I can do. There’s nothing secret about it.”
Kuperwasser, the former official whose name was mentioned by al-Akhbar as Safadi’s contact person in the Israeli government, on Thursday downplayed his involvement with Safadi.
“They [al-Akhbar] try to portray all this as Israeli activities, but in fact it’s merely Mendi [Safadi]’s activities,” Kuperwasser said in a telephone conversation. “He’s a private individual working for himself.”
“It’s funny. I know Mendi and have spoken to him a couple of times, but some of the things I read [in al-Akhbar] never happened,” he added.