Aide to top Palestinian negotiator arrested over 'spying for Israel'

An aide to PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat was arrested on charges of spying for Israel.
An aide to PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat was arrested on charges of spying for Israel. PHOTO: AFP

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Palestinian intelligence officers have arrested an employee of top negotiator and PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat on accusations of "spying for Israel", a security source said on Sunday.

The high-ranking official said on condition of anonymity that the man employed in the negotiations department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation was arrested around two weeks ago.

According to the official, the man, whose identity was not revealed, was an "administrative employee without access to political files". He was arrested "for spying on behalf of Israel", he said.

The suspect is said to have confessed after being arrested in the occupied West Bank town of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is based.

He had been under surveillance for a long period of time, according to the source.

Palestinian security forces were in the process of evaluating any potential damage caused by the suspect's activities.

Mr Erekat, a close ally of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has been the top negotiator in peace efforts with Israel. Talks have been at a standstill for nearly two years.

Under Palestinian law, those accused of spying for Israel risk the death penalty.