BEIRUT, Lebanon: A Lebanese judge filed charges Wednesday against three journalists accused of breaking into the Beirut apartment of a witness in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, a judicial official said.Investigating Judge Elias Eid filed the charges against reporter Firas Hatoum, who works with the local New-TV station, as well as a cameraman and assistant, for breaking into and "tampering with criminal evidence" at the apartment of Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq, who is wanted in Lebanon in connection with the Feb. 2005 assassination of Hariri.

The three were detained Friday and officials said they would be moved to a suburban prison east of Beirut. The officials did not specify what condemnation the TV crew would face if found guilty.Siddiq, a Syrian, was freed from a French prison in February. The judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to give statements to the press, said a plain-clothed police agent had been observing Siddiq’s apartment and photographed Hatoum and his team breaking into the house through a window. The news editor of New-TV, Mariam al-Bassam, acknowledged Hatoum illegally entered the apartment. "The aim was to take pictures of the building from the outside, but Firas was encouraged by the owner of the building and others who told him he could enter the apartment," she told The Associated Press.

The witness was detained in Oct. 2005 when the U.N. commission investigating Hariri’s assassination recommended his arrest on grounds he give false evidence to investigators. Lebanese prosecutors have since charged him in absentia and want him extradited for giving false testimony to mislead the U.N. investigation and playing an indirect role in Hariri’s killing.

The official said the three acknowledged taking documents from the apartments, which they returned to the judiciary.

She described the break-in in as a "rash decision" taken by Hatoum because of his "journalistic enthusiasm" and said he did not take any documents relevant to the Hariri investigation.