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Lebanon officials denounce
STL summoning of journalists

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon. (AFP PHOTO)

BEIRUT – A number of Lebanese officials expressed their disapproval for the contempt charges issued against two Lebanese journalists and two media organizations by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

 

“The STL would do better to expedite the arrest of suspects rather than [legally] pursue journalists who are carrying out their duty,” Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi told Al-Jadeed television on Friday.

 

“The priority is to uncover the identity of the martyrs’ assassins,” he added.

 

Azzi went on to stress his “solidarity” with Al-Jadeed TV, which was one of the media organizations that the STL summoned for allegedly obstructing the course of justice.

 

He also criticized the work of the STL, but insisted that “I do not doubt its credibility for one moment.”

 

“After 9 years, we still haven’t discovered who killed our martyrs.”

 

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt also expressed his “surprise at the STL reaching the point where it would issue accusations against the media.”

 

“We reject prejudicing the freedom of the press,” Jumblatt told Al-Jadeed on Friday.

 

The summoning of the journalists and the media organizations was also opposed by a number of activists, who took to social media websites to voice their discontent with the STL’s move.

 

A hashtag which translates as “in solidarity with Karma Khayat and Ibrahim Al-Amin” was created on Twitter following the STL’s statement.

 

The activists also called for a protest Friday at 5:00 pm in front of the Information Ministry, “in support of the Lebanese media.”

 

Al-Jadeed’s Karma Mohamed Tahsin al-Khayat and the station's parent company New TV S.A.L., along with Al-Akhbareditor-in-chief Ibrahim Mohamed al-Amin and his newspaper's parent company Akhbar Beirut S.A.L., were summoned to appear before the STL on charges of contempt and obstruction of justice, the STL said in a statement issued Thursday.

 

Formally established on March 1, 2009, the STL has repeatedly been the subject of news reports based on alleged leaks concerning the investigation of the 2005 murder of former Premier Rafiq Hariri.

 

On January 15, 2013, Al-Akhbar published a list of 17 men it said were witnesses expected to testify before the tribunal.

The STL said after the incident that “publicly identifying individuals as potential STL witnesses may endanger these individuals,” which is why the Tribunal “will not confirm whether the content of the news reports is accurate or not.”

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon. (AFP PHOTO)

The STL would do better to expedite the arrest of suspects rather than legally pursue journalists who are carrying out their duty.