Canadian priest acquitted of spying

A Lebanese military court has acquitted a Canadian priest of spying for Israel but convicted him on the charge of sectarian incitement.

Bruce Balfour, an evangelical Christian who has been in custody since arriving in Lebanon last July, was found not guilty of the charge that he was gathering information and taking pictures of the military positions of the Lebanese army in south Lebanon and of the Shiite guerrilla group, Hezbollah, for Israel.

Balfour denied the accusations, saying he had traveled to south Lebanon several times in the past to plant cedar trees.

The court acquitted him for lack of evidence, but sentenced him to one year in prison, reduced to only 52 days, for inciting sectarian divisions in a country where public posts and privileges are distributed according to sect and religion.

Balfour's lawyer said he will appeal the sentence even after his client departs from Lebanon.