Australian citizen admits to spying for Hamas


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian citizen pleaded guilty to charges of spying for Hamas.

Eyad Rashid Abu Arja, a Palestinian who also holds 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.

Arja, a computer scientist, is expected to be sentenced Jan. 5 to 30 months in prison.

His attorney said Arja had been coerced into the mission by Hamas operatives in Saudi Arabia.

“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,” Leah Tsemel told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday.

The indictment cites photographing commercial centers, collecting maps and making contact with businesses in Israel, according to the French news agency AFP.

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