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Jordanian-Australian held by Israel admits Hamas ties

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jordanian-Australian arrested during a visit to Israel confessed to having illegal ties to Hamas.

Eyad Abu Arga, 47, was detailed in April after flying to Tel Aviv with his wife as part of what his lawyer, at the time, described as a Mediterranean tour.

Israeli prosecutors accused Abu Arga of being a Hamas adviser and spy, but the court at which he was indicted announced a plea agreement Sunday under which he was convicted of the lesser charge of "serving an outlawed organization."

"The defendant voiced deep regret for his actions and rued the way in which others dragged him into taking action and exploited him," a court statement said.

Abu Arga was expected to be sentenced next month to 30 months’ imprisonment, including time already served in Israeli detention. 

A computer expert of Palestinian Muslim descent, Abu Arga originally was accused of being recruited by Hamas in Saudi Arabia and Syria to improve the group’s capabilities in counter-surveillance and rocketry. He was further accused of coming to Israel to test security at Ben-Gurion University and gather information at high-tech conferences.

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