Israeli Arab writer and activist Ameer Makhoul has
signed a plea bargain
with the prosecution in his case, in which he admits to contacting a foreign agent, conspiring to assisting an enemy in a time of war, and aggravated espionage for Hezbollah.
The prosecution removed the most serious charge – assisting an enemy in a time of war – as a result of the bargain, and charges against him now carry a maximum prison sentence of seven to 10 years.
The state claims that Makhoul's admission has put an end to accusations of political persecution, some of which were voiced by Makhoul's attorneys during his time in detainment.
After the bargain was struck, the prosecution defended it by saying the deal was fair and balanced, and that it was preferable to gain a confession of wrongdoing than to take a chance at trying the suspect.
"The trial was presented as an attempt to settle accounts with an innocent man because of his political activities," the State Prosecutor's Office said in a statement, explaining its desire for a confession.
"There were also unfounded rumors about wrongful means allegedly used by the Shin Bet and police in order to extract a false confession. In the final admission before the court the defendant puts an end to these rumors and clarifies beyond a doubt that his confession is real."
Makhoul's attorney was also pleased with the plea bargain, but stressed that the damage his client did to the state is dwarfed by information accessible to anyone, or that had previously been leaked.
"If you look at the law, once you hand over any information that is even semi-related to security you have transgressed," he said.
The 52-year old Makhoul was arrested in May, and criticism of the manner of the late-night detainment immediately ensued.
The indictment against Makhoul says he met with Hezbollah agents during his travels and, on at least 10 separate ocassions, handed them information on the location of Mossad and Rafael facilities. He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain knowledge of the Shin Bet chief's residence.
In addition, Makhoul was accused of trying to hand over videos of a terror attack attempted in a Haifa mall and in general attempting to enlighten the terror organization on the weaknesses of the Israeli home front.