|Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the spies did not pose a serious threat to the movement [Reuters]
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says the group has captured three spies among its members, two of whom were recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The spies, one of whom was recruited five months ago, did not pose a serious threat to the movement or its military capabilities, Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday.
"None of these three cases are within the first line of senior leadership. They were not in positions of sensitive responsibility ... it is impossible to touch the military and security infrastructure of the resistance and its ability to confront," he said.
But a spokesman for the US embassy in Beirut told the AFP news agency that the charges were "empty accusations".
"There is no substance to his accusation," the spokesman said. "It appears as if Nasrallah was addressing internal problems within Hezbollah with which we have nothing to do."
Nasrallah said the CIA agents who hired the spies had diplomatic protection from the US embassy in Beirut and accused the CIA of recruiting the spies on behalf of Israel.
It is highly unusual for Hezbollah to acknowledge that it has been infiltrated.
"Israel retained the services of the CIA in its attempt to penetrate Hezbollah. [...] Two cases of recruitment were done by the CIA and a third one either by the CIA, European intelligence or Mossad.
"The Israelis failed to penetrate the structure of Hezbollah so they have turned to the CIA for help," he said.
"We are fortified against any penetration or infiltration by Israel. We have in place a very effective and powerful anti-spying apparatus.
"To all our people I say, deal with the families of the culprits with mercy; not to fall under the brunt of the psychological war waged by our enemy."
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, told the Associated Press news agency he "would not dignify" the accusations with a comment.
Hezbollah fought an inconclusive 34-day war with Israel in 2006 in which at least 1,200 Lebanese and 158 Israelis were killed.