Ziad Itani Freed as Arrest Warrant Issued for Suzanne al-Hajj

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Lebanese comedian Ziad Itani was released on Tuesday after 109 days in detention, as an arrest warrant was issued for Lt. Col. Suzanne al-Hajj who is accused of “fabricating” a spying for Israel case against him.

Speaking to reporters after his release, Itani thanked President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq and the Intelligence Branch of the Internal Security Forces.

“I'm a theater artist. How can I be charged with the ugliest accusation?” Itani added, noting that “the heroes of the Intelligence Branch have rescued the new presidential tenure from the scandal of the century.”

“No one has faced the injustice that I have faced,” Itani decried. Asked whether he was tortured, the comedian nodded yes.

Itani then arrived at the Center House where he met with PM Hariri before heading to his home in Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood.

During his meeting with Itani, Hariri defended the State Security agency and noted that any other security agency could have acted the same had it been fed false information.

Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abu Ghida has earlier on Tuesday ordered the release of Itani and issued an arrest warrant for al-Hajj, the former head of the ISF anti-cyber crime bureau.

Itani received a hero's welcome outside his home in Tariq al-Jedideh, where he was received by his family and the neighborhood's residents.

“What are you waiting for?! Meet me in Tariq el-Jedideh and bring sweets and juice... Come on, I miss you,” Itani had tweeted upon his release.

Earlier in the day, Abu Ghida interrogated al-Hajj and the hacker Elie Ghabash in a joint session at the Military Court.

Al-Hajj's lawyer, ex-minister Rashid Derbas, announced after the session that his client had denied all the charges and that “there is no conclusive evidence to incriminate her.”

Judge Germanos meanwhile allowed al-Hajj's husband, the lawyer Ziad Hbeish, to meet her three times a week.

Itani had been detained since November on charges of “collaborating with Israel” while al-Hajj and Ghabash were arrested around two weeks ago on suspicion of fabricating electronic evidence to “frame” Itani.

Media reports said al-Hajj had asked the hacker to fabricate a case against Itani to take revenge on him for posting a screenshot of a 'like' she had placed on a tweet by controversial TV director Charbel Khalil.

The 'like' cost al-Hajj her job as head of the ISF anti-cybercrime unit.

In the 2017 tweet, Khalil had quipped that “Saudi women are only allowed to drive if the car is booby-trapped.”

Media reports have said that al-Hajj and Ghabash are involved in other hacking attacks.

Itani has shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut, its customs and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.

The works -- particularly "Beirut Tariq al-Jedideh", which refers to a majority-Sunni neighborhood of the city -- have been very well-received.

Before becoming an actor, Itani worked as a journalist with Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television and with various regional newspapers.

Comments 15
Thumb justin 13 March 2018, 16:54

حبيش لزوجته المقدم الحاج: تحية لكرامتك التي لن يستطيع أحد النيل منها

بعد صدور قرار بإخلاء سبيل زياد عيتاني ومذكرة توقيف بحق المقدم سوزان الحاج، كتب زوجها المحامي زياد حبيش عبر صفحته على موقع “فيسبوك”: “ستبقين أرزة البيت الصامدة في وجه الاعاصير، تحية لك ولعنفوانك وكرامتك التي لن يستطيع احد النيل منها”.


Thumb liberty 13 March 2018, 17:19

and he thinks she has 'honor'?

Thumb warrior 14 March 2018, 03:54

he is like her: shameless!

Thumb s.o.s 13 March 2018, 17:15

Ziad Itani should sue the highest magistrate and his minister of Justice and demand millions. Finally, the dirty prosyrian/iranian (All Shia/FPMers) cops who tortured him to confess should be jailed for life.

Thumb eagledawn 13 March 2018, 18:03

How are such fascist and blatantly ignorant/racist comments allowed on this forum? you think you're better than others, you're the worst filth that Lebanon has, sectarian trash.
You should see a psychiatrist - you're the same trash as the Hezbollah you support.

Thumb s.o.s 13 March 2018, 21:15

Mofan aka mukhtarr. Times passes, you watch us evolve whilst you remain as is, primitive. It must be Painful and frustrating , that’s why we forgive you, we understand you need to let all out.

Thumb s.o.s 13 March 2018, 19:04

Patatatriotic. The couch potato, the keyboard warrior.

Thumb justin 13 March 2018, 20:22

sorry flamethrower but your shia State Security said he confessed:

صدر عن قسم الإعلام والتوجيه والعلاقات العامة في المديرية العامة لأمن الدولة البيان التالي:

“نشر بعض الوسائل والمواقع الإلكترونية أخبارًا مغلوطة عن توقيف المدعى عليه زياد عيتاني في تاريخ 23/11/2017، وحاولت الأقلام المأجورة التشكيك بصدقية التحقيقات التي أجرتها المديرية مع الموقوف، قبل إحالته على القضاء العسكري في تاريخ 28/11/2017.

يهم المديرية العامة لأمن الدولة أن توضح في ما يلي:

أولا، يؤسفنا أن تبلغ السجالات الإعلامية حدا متدنيا من المناقبيات التي تخالف ميثاق الشرف الإعلامي، وأن تروج لتبرئة من ثبت عليهم جرم التواصل والتخابر مع العدو بهدف التطبيع، وخصوصا أن القانون اللبناني يجرم العميل، ويحاسب من يتستر عليه.

ثانيا، نذكر بأن التحقيقات التي أجريت مع المدعى عليه تمت بإشراف القضاء، وفي حضور مفوض الحكومة لدى المحكمة العسكرية، الذي قام شخصيا بإستجوابه، قبل الإدعاء عليه، إستنادا الى اعترافاته الموثقة بالصوت والصورة.

Thumb justin 13 March 2018, 20:46

عيتاني: انا طبعي ساخر، ومواقع التواصل الإجتماعي خلقت لفتح النقاشات وأنا ارغب بكشف كل شيء وسأتكلم عندما ينهي القاضي أبو غيدا تحقيقاته

المسرحي زياد عيتاني عبر "الجديد": هل يوجد دليل واحد لإعترافي بأنني عميل؟، اول 5 دقائق من الإعتقال كنت تحت الضغط وحدث أمر غريب، ولست قادرًا على الحديث الآن، ننتظر الجلسة والتوضيحات من الجهات المعنية.

Thumb justin 13 March 2018, 20:47

وكان عيتاني شدد خلال تصريحات صحفية بعد إخلاء سبيله أنه ظلم وان احدًا في البلد لم يتعرض لظلم مشابه، وقال: “تعرضت للتعذيب في 26 كانون الثاني أي بعد ما سمي بالإعتراف”.

Thumb justin 13 March 2018, 20:48

لن أسامح وهذه قضيتي… زياد عيتاني: سأتكلم عندما ينهي أبو غيدا تحقيقاته
وكان عيتاني شدد خلال تصريحات صحفية بعد إخلاء سبيله أنه ظلم وان احدًا في البلد لم يتعرض لظلم مشابه، وقال: “تعرضت للتعذيب في 26 كانون الثاني أي بعد ما سمي بالإعتراف”.

Thumb janoubi 13 March 2018, 21:13

" Asked whether he was tortured, the comedian nodded yes."

Thumb whyaskwhy 13 March 2018, 23:46

Welcome to the Jungle, this is the law that Kizballah and associates have brought into effect. This is the justice and civility they want, after all its a mini Iranian state is what they aspire for and have openly stated it. Your guilty till proven innocent or tell you give up from the beating.

Thumb warrior 14 March 2018, 03:53

so why was saddam hussein executed if the officers who ordered the use of chemical weapons were arrested and put on trial ya troll?

Thumb warrior 14 March 2018, 03:55

atruth is banned but his double patriotic carries the torch and continues the mission.