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SKeyes Statements | Lebanon

SKeyes Condemns Prison Sentence against Journalist Fidaa Itani
October 29, 2018
Source: Beirut – SKeyes

On October 22, 2018, the Baabda criminal court judge Ahmad Shehade sentenced journalist Fidaa Itani to two months in prison and fined him 35 million Lebanese pounds for libel, defamation and slander against Minister of Foreign Affairs and Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, following a Facebook post he published. On June 29, 2018, Itani was sentenced to four months in prison and fined 10 million Lebanese pounds in other lawsuits filed by Bassil. Complaints against Itani were also previously lodged by Wafiq Safa, a Hezbollah high-ranking official and Nader Hariri, former chief-of-staff to the Prime Minister.

The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom firmly condemns the use of justice as a tool of repression and intimidation against journalists and opposition activists. The Center is also strongly opposed to any prison sentence against journalists and calls on the Editors’ Syndicate to adopt a firm position on this issue and refrain from playing up to political parties. Fidaa Itani currently lives in the UK where he was granted political asylum to shield him from the serious threats he had been receiving during the last years he spent in Lebanon.

Journalists have the duty to shed light on flawed government performance and hold authorities to account. And authorities have the duty to secure an atmosphere of freedom and justice while preserving citizens’ right to access information. The “Stability v. Freedom” equation that parties in power are trying to inculcate in the minds of Lebanese people is totally unacceptable.