Demonstrators denounce STL charges against Al-Akhbar chief

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Al-Akhbar's Editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin speaks with a journalist from Al-Jadeed on April 25, 2014. (Photo: Fatima Tormos)

By: Rana Harbi

Published Friday, April 25, 2014

Updated at 7:06 pm: Demonstrators gathered on Friday afternoon in Beirut in support of Al-Akhbar, Al-Jadeed, and in the name of press freedom, after the former two were charged with two counts of obstruction of justice by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

Several dozen protesters met near the Ministry of Interior at 5:00 pm, a day after Al-Akhbar's editor in chief, Ibrahim Al-Amin, and Al-Jadeed's Deputy Head of News and Political Programs, Karma Khayat, were charged "for the publication of names asserted to be those of alleged confidential witnesses in the Tribunal's proceedings."

The charges against Amin relate to the decision of Al-Akhbar in January 2013 to publish the names of 32 witnesses belonging to the STL's prosecution, while the summon against Khayat involves material broadcast on Al-Jadeed in August 2012.

"The STL is not only violating freedom of expression and of the press, but also threatening Lebanon's sovereignty," Khayat told Al-Akhbar. "When did the Lebanese judicial system become the STL's mailbox?"

Even though reporters from different broadcast, print and online news outlets gathered in support of Amin and Khayat, and also in condemnation of the attacks on journalistic freedoms, some local media channels decided not to participate.

"Journalism went from being a profession to being an investment," Khodor Salameh, activist and blogger, told al-Akhbar, "Because of political stances and personal agendas, the journalism scene is divided."

According to Pierre Abisaab, journalist and vice-editor of Al-Akhbar, the STL's legitimacy and credibility have become questionable over the years.

"Shedding light on the STL's misconducts has apparently become illegal," Abisaab said. "The Lebanese government has given up the Lebanese people's right to know what is happening behind the STL's closed doors."

The court set May 13, 2014 as the date for Amin and Khayat to appear before it, either in person of via video link.

Comments

Mr. Abisaab the credibility or Al-Ahbar is what should be questioned. The rag is funded by and is a propaganda wing of Hezbollah. When a newspaper prints not just the names but photos, dates of birth and addresses of potential witnesses in the murder of 22 people it is clear that it is an attempt to obstruct justice.In most countries it is illegal to intimidate witnesses. This act is not about Lebanese right to know nor freedom of the press but about protecting your paymasters. Your argument is as pathetic as you are.

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