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NOW

Lebanese customs
assault Al-Jadeed crew

Al-Jadeed crew attacked. (Al-Jadeed)
Customs protest
Customs protest
Customs protest
Customs protest
Protesters gather to demonstrate in Downtown Beirut

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s customs on Tuesday assaulted an Al-Jadeed television crew in Downtown Beirut investigating corruption within the import authority, sparking protests later in the day. 

 

Customs authorities beat the team, broke their cameras, and “arrested reporter Riyad Kobeissy,” the station said.

 

“He was arrested because he was [conducting research] for an episode the team was working on regarding corruption in customs,” Al-Jadeed added.

 

The station also said that customs official General Ibrahim Shamseddine ordered and participated in the beating.

 

Caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad al-Safadi said that the customs administration decided in coordination with the Military Prosecution to transfer the case to the military judiciary “because the customs personnel [involved] are military members.”

 

Lebanese Armed Forces units deployed to the scene following the incident but failed to restore calm, as the National News Agency reported that tension persisted in the area.

 

A crowd of approximately 150 people gathered later in the afternoon near Downtown Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square across from the customs office to protest against the beating of the Al-Jadeed crew, NOW's correspondent reported.

 

"Shabiha, shabiha, customs officials are shabiha," the crowd yelled, in reference to Syrian President Bashar al Assad's feared militiamen.

 

The crowd accused customs officials of corruption and waved 1,000 L.L. banknotes at customs employees who were looking down at the demonstration from their offices.

 

The assault on the Al-Jadeed crew also drew condemnation from a number of media and political figures.

 

“It is a shame that members of a state administration turn into what resembles a militia,” chairperson of the National Media Council Abdel Hadi Mahfouz said.

 

Meanwhile, head of the Lebanese Press Editors’ Syndicate explained that the Al-Jadeed crew “had obtained permission from the finance minister to conduct this investigation.”

                                            

Change and Reform bloc MP Simon Abi Ramia also denounced this incident and expressed his solidarity with the station.

Customs security officers attack an Al-Jadeed television crew. (Al-Jadeed)

It is a shame that members of a state administration turn into what resembles a militia.