Journalists Rally in Solidarity with Al-Akhbar, Al-Jadeed Colleagues over STL Summons

Several journalists rallied near the Ministry of Information in Beirut on Friday afternoon, to protest the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's summons of al-Jadeed TV and al-Akhbar newspaper's journalists on charges of “contempt and obstruction of justice.”

The STL announced on Thursday that it has summoned Karma Mohammed Tahsin al-Khayat from al-Jadeed, as well as the station’s parent company New TV S.A.L., to appear before it on two counts of Contempt and Obstruction of Justice.

Ibrahim Mohammed al-Amin from al-Akhbar, as well as the newspaper’s parent company Akhbar Beirut S.A.L., have been summoned on one count of Contempt and Obstruction of Justice.

Al-Khayat and al-Amin both stressed during the protest that they will not stop publishing “what has to be published,” calling on the Minister of Information to resign.

"Lebanese authorities allowed the STL to violate sovereignty and gave it unrestrained powers, and thus, the Tribunal gave itself the power of prosecuting journalists,” al-Amin told LBCI television.

"If authorities did not play their role, they would be allowing more violations to take place,” he added. “Let the (Tribunal's officials) go and investigate who leaked this information.”

Asked about whether he will stand trial, he said: “This is a legal and procedural aspect that needs to be studied.”

"But nothing will stop us from continuing to publish what must be published and out stance will not change. The political authority is greatly responsible.”

The al-Akhbar journalist also questioned Minister of Information Ramzi Jreij's “silence.”

"His silence over this issue is offensive. The ministry has no role in the first place and the minister must resign.”

On his opinion on the STL, he told al-Jadeed: “We are over the intimidation stage that is practiced under the slogan of the truth, and the STL is Lebanon's enemy and we will not recognize its legitimacy or its powers.”

"We will not commit to any arbitrary decision or procedure taken by the STL, and Lebanese authorities must feel responsible for the oppression that is happening.”

Meanwhile, al-Khayat considered the summons a “warning to the Lebanese state.”

"It is either we have sovereignty or we don't,” she told MTV. “This is not an attack on journalists.”

"What are these discretionary decisions for?” she asked.

"We are convinced that we did nothing wrong regarding the STL, and we have tasked lawyers with this issue and we will take a decision based on their recommendation.”

"We will continue on same path and the STL's decision will not stop us.”

Change and Reform bloc MP Abbas Hashem, who took part in the sit-in, told al-Jadeed that any threat to the freedom of the press contradicts with the basis on which the Tribunal was found.”

"What is happening today raises many questions,” he said.

Al-Jadeed news director Mariam al-Bassam considered that journalists must be held accountable when they air a report that obstructs the work of the STL.

"But when we air accurate information, we would not be offending the Tribunal,” she explained.

"It is insulting the media and we want the truth more than it does.”

She continued: “The minister of information does not represent media outlets, but maybe the opinion of a political party.”

New TV S.A.L. and Khayat, the network's deputy news and political program manager, are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses” and “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to remove from al-Jadeed TV’s website and al-Jadeed TV’s YouTube channel information on purported confidential witnesses.”

Meanwhile, Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Amin, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. case.”

The accused may choose whether to appear at the court in person or by video-link. The initial appearances of the accused are scheduled for May 13, 2014.



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