U.S. Sanctions Bill Aimed at Lebanon over Amer Fakhoury

W460

A New Hampshire senator is sponsoring a bill to ban visas and freeze assets of Lebanese officials involved in the detention of a Lebanese-American citizen since September.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, is expected to introduce the bill Monday, along with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. It would sanction current or former Lebanese government officials, including members of the judiciary system, involved in the "unlawful detainment, arrest or abuse of any United States citizen in Lebanon." Sanctions also could apply to family members and associates of the officials.

Amer Fakhoury, 57, a restaurant owner in Dover, New Hampshire, who became a U.S. citizen last year, has been jailed since Sept. 12 in his native country. He went on vacation to visit family he hadn't seen in nearly two decades.

Fakhoury was once a member of the former Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army and worked at a former prison described by human rights groups as a center for torture. His lawyer and family say he fled Lebanon in 2001 through Israel and eventually to the United States, because of death threats he and many other South Lebanon Army members received after Israel ended its occupation of Lebanon in 2000.

Earlier this month, Fakhoury, who has been hospitalized with stage 4 lymphoma, was charged by a military investigative judge with the murder and torture of inmates at the former Khiam Prison. Lebanon's intelligence services said he confessed during questioning to being a warden there. But Fakhoury's family and lawyer say that he had no direct contact with inmates and was never involved in any interrogation or torture.

A news release from Shaheen's office said Fakhoury's cancer symptoms are "exacerbated by the beating he received at the hands of Lebanese security officials looking to extract a false confession" from him.

"The U.S. government has provided ample opportunity for Lebanese officials to free Amer Fakhoury," Shaheen said. "However, Amer is fighting for his life and time is running out. ... There must be consequences for this flagrant disregard of international norms and human rights."

The bill does not specifically name Fakhoury, although Shaheen's staff said they are not aware of any other U.S. citizens being held in Lebanon.

"What's happening right now with Amer Fakhoury is truly a criminal act," said Naz Durakoglu, Shaheen's senior foreign policy adviser. "To just take someone, and then to make up allegations and then just hold them while they're gravely ill is not something that we want to encourage around the world, especially with U.S. citizens."

Durakoglu said it is their understanding that Fakhoury's detention has been led by Hizbullah.

The news release said Fakhoury's case has been exploited by Hizbullah "in order to exacerbate ethnic and political tensions in Lebanon during this critical time in the country's history."

Lebanon has been in the middle of an unprecedented economic and political crisis amid nationwide protests since October, leading to the prime minister's resignation. A new government has been formed. It was unclear who could address Fakhoury's case.

"Understanding the urgency of the situation, we hope this bill moves quickly through Congress before it's too late," Fakhoury's family said in a statement.

Comments 4
Thumb chrisrushlau 24 February 2020, 19:57

Shaheen obviously feels that if all of US proxy torturers are placed on trial, the empire will be too expensive to maintain. Asked why the US should maintain an empire, Shaheen was called away for an urgent text message.

Missing bigjohn 24 February 2020, 20:33

This Israeli collaborator should be NECKLACED along with the Zionist commenting under several names SOS, Samium, Galaxy, ETC

Missing bigjohn 24 February 2020, 20:39

"It would sanction current or former Lebanese government officials, including members of the judiciary system"...If they had any money in the American Banks, I am sure it has been withdrawn. It is so good to see the American Empire run by Israel being isolated and alone in the world.

Thumb Maxx 25 February 2020, 02:48

What happened in the Khiyam was an abomination against all of the Good Creator's creatures in ways unspeakable. But let us not also forget that the friends of Hizb, such as the Japanese Red Army, without whom Israel would not have so hastily abandoned its occupation of South Lebanon in May 2000 - remember what Hizb did to the people who abandoned their own country of Japan just to come and help Lebanon: Once Israel withdrew from South Lebanon, Hizb rounded up the Japanese and handed them over to be extradited to Japan, where most of them received a death sentence. We wouldn't hand over Ghosn because he's a thief and therefore a governmental idol, but for those who did more than any Hizbi to liberate the South, Hizb sent them to their death and insisted on taking credit for their actions.