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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

SKeyes Condemns Prison Sentence against Journalist Hanin Ghaddar

Thursday , 18 January 2018

The military court sentenced Lebanese journalist, researcher and Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hanin Ghaddar, in absentia to six months in prison for undermining the Lebanese army” during a conference organized in the US capital in May 2014.

“The military court sentenced my client in absentia, accusing her of causing harm to the Lebanese army during a conference held by the Institute in Washington in May 2014. Back then, my client said that the Lebanese army draws a distinction between Sunni terrorism and Shia terrorism, towards which it shows tolerance”, defense counsel Marwan Sakr said in an interview with the SKeyes Centre.

“In such cases, it is possible to appeal before the court , but we cannot do that because Hanin is outside the country”, he added.

The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom strongly condemns the sentence against journalist Hanin Ghaddar and sees it as the most dangerous in years because it was issued by the military court. The military justice is interfering in areas that fall under civil jurisdiction. This verdict is an attempt to intimidate free thinkers and muzzle freedom of expression, through a process that lacks the basic criteria of fair trial.

The Lebanese authorities are increasingly mirroring the behavior of authoritarian regimes in the region that use military justice as a weapon of repression on the basis of weak arguments. This trend will continue as long as those in power who claim to defend freedom of expression, allow military sanctions to be imposed on journalists participating in conferences.

Also, the SKeyes Center stresses that this verdict, which comes after a significant number of violations against freedom of expression, deprives Lebanon of its main asset as the country of liberties and requires the mobilization of all civil and political forces to prevent the return of the security regime that governed Lebanon when the country was under Syrian military tutelage.

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