DATE=7/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SWISS SPY TRIAL (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-264169 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A Swiss court has found an Israeli intelligence agent guilty of spying and has given him a one year suspended sentence. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports that the Mossad agent was caught during a failed spy operation nearly two and a half years ago in the Swiss capital, Bern. TEXT: The Israeli agent could have received up to 20 years imprisonment for spying. In the end, he even escaped the prosecutor's recommendation that he be put in prison for 15 months. Instead, he was given a one- year suspended sentence and barred from entering Switzerland for five years. In handing down the sentence, the presiding judge said that the Mossad agent's crimes were considerable and that Switzerland's sovereignty was violated in a callous way. The defendant's lawyers welcomed the verdict and said they would not appeal. The defendant was allowed to stand trial under the alias of Issac Bental. He claimed that his life would be in danger if his true identity were known. Nearly two and a half years ago, Mr. Bental was caught by Swiss police trying to install wire tapping equipment in an apartment building on the outskirts of Bern. The aim of the operation was to listen in on telephone conversations of a Swiss citizen of Lebanese origin who reportedly had links with the Lebanese militant organization, Hezbollah. Those suspicions have not been confirmed. Four of Mr. Bental's accomplices were released by the police. A fifth agent was never found. Mr. Bental was jailed for more than two months and released after Israel paid a two million dollar bail and promised that he would return to face trial. During the trial, he confessed to charges of engaging in illegal activity on behalf of a foreign country, of spying and using forged passports. He was found guilty on all three charges. The spying incident created a furor when it occurred. It strained normally good relations between Switzerland and Israel. It also damaged Mossad's reputation as one of the world's most vaunted intelligence agencies. In his defense, Mr. Bental said that he had joined Mossad for idealistic reasons and that he had acted to protect Israel's strategic interests. (Signed) NEB/LS/GE/JBM 07-Jul-2000 12:09 PM EDT (07-Jul-2000 1609 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .