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Military Tribunal drops verdict against journalist
April 12, 2018
Source: The Daily Star

The Military Tribunal Tuesday [April 10, 2018] dropped its verdict against Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar and referred her case back to the Military Prosecution. The tribunal’s decision came after Ghaddar’s lawyer filed an objection regarding the court’s decision in January to sentence her in absentia to six months in prison for making comments critical of the Army.

The tribunal, headed by Brig. Gen. Hussein Abdullah, accepted the objection, saying it had been filed within the legal period.

It also announced that Ghaddar’s case did not fall within the tribunal’s jurisdiction, since the defendant’s comments on the Army were made in her capacity as a journalist.

Ghaddar, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was accused of “undermining the Lebanese Army” in comments she made at a conference held by the institute in Washington, D.C., in May 2014. A vocal critic of Hezbollah, Ghaddar, said at the event that the Army distinguishes between Sunni and Shiite militants, suggesting it tolerates the latter.

The Military Tribunal recommended that the Court of Publications should preside over the case and referred the matter to the Military Prosecution, which will refer the case to the court determined appropriate.

Following the tribunal’s initial decision finding Ghaddar guilty, the United States withdrew a visa it had previously granted Abdullah.

Speaking to AFP, Ghaddar confirmed that the sentence had been rescinded but maintained that the case “hasn’t been dropped.”

“This is not only a personal victory, it’s a victory for free press,” she told the agency.