Thursday marked an important day in the life of ex-ISF officer Suzanne Al-Hajj, as she was officially acquitted by the Military Tribunal in the case of Ziad Itani after months of trial.
The case, which has been ongoing since 2017, surrounded the level of involvement Al-Hajj had in fabricating evidence to support the fact that actor Ziad Itani was an Israeli spy.
The conflict started when a Twitter user of the same name (Ziad Itani) had posted a screenshot of Al-Hajj's like on a controversial post about Saudi women being able to drive. The tweet, posted by TV producer Charbel Khalil, translates, "The news that women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia was incomplete, they were only allowed to drive the car if it was booby-trapped. #toclarify"
Subsequently, Al-Hajj allegedly conspired with hacker Elie Ghabash to fabricate evidence that would frame actor Ziad Itani as an Israeli spy. As a result, Itani was detained for 109 days before he was released in March 2018.
Al-Hajj was an officer for the Internal Security Forces as its head of the Anti-Cybercrime Bureau, but she was asked to step down back in 2017 after the screenshot went public.
Ghabash has been found guilty in the case and has been sentenced to one year in prison, although this is a reduction of a previous sentence of three years of hard labor.
State Commissioner Peter Germanos was in attendance at the hearing Thursday and requested Al-Hajj's acquittal, stating that there was no evidence to support her involvement in the framing. However, he did urge for the harshest punishment for Ghabash, citing that he has been involved in five other spying for Israel cases for other individuals that provided him a financial gain.
Although Al-Hajj has been acquitted, she was still found guilty under charges of withholding information, for which the court sentenced her to two months in prison and a 200,000 LBP (approximately $130) fine. Her lawyer, Rashid Derbas, announced after the session that she was released on time served.
Al-Hajj stated in a previous hearing that she had ordered Ghabash to dig deeper into the screenshot, but she denied that she had told him to fabricate any evidence against Itani.
"All technical evidence prove that our client was later informed that a case was being prepared against Ziad Itani and had no prior knowledge of the issue," Derbas stated.