12 suspects charged in TikTok child molestation case


Mount Lebanon Attorney General Tanios al-Saghbeeni on Thursday filed charges against 12 suspects in the so-called TikTok child molestation case, the National News Agency said.

Those charged include five detainees, NNA added.

“The investigative judge has been asked to send the arrest warrants to the Interpol once they are issued and to send two judicial assistance requests to an Arab country and a European country in which (the suspects) Peter Naffah and Paul Maouchi are suspected to be residing,” NNA said.

According to media reports, a drug and child molestation gang led by a famous Lebanese TikToker has been busted by Lebanese security forces, in a case that has shocked the country.

The well-known TikToker, Georges Moubayed, is a barber whose shop lies in the Metn neighborhood of Sabtyieh near Beirut, the reports said.

Several other suspects, including minors who are also famous TikTokers, have been arrested according to the reports.

MTV reported that Moubayed was exposed by another famous TikToker who had been arrested hours earlier.

According to reports, the gang comprises 30 members while 30 children have been molested, with the parents of only eight of them filing complaints

“A lawyer filed a complaint against the gang’s leader a month ago, which prompted the head of the (Internal Security Forces’) cybercrime combating bureau and the Union for the Protection of Juveniles in Lebanon to identify the children who had been molested,” MTV reported.

“Ten members of the gang would pick the children on social networking websites, while another part of the gang would choose a place for committing the crime, after which members of the gang would molest the children,” the TV network added.

The reports said the famous TikToker took advantage of his social media fame to lure kids to his barbershop, telling them that they would appear in social media videos while having their hair cut by him.

“After the filming of the scenes at his barbershop, the TikToker used to invite his victims to ‘a party at a chalet’ where he would carry out the sexual assault,” the reports said.

Judicial sources said Lebanese and Syrian children were lured to the seaside chalet with the use of “simple gifts, including T-shirts.”

An official Internal Security Forces statement meanwhile said that the children were also “forced to consume drugs at several hotels.”

“After investigations and information gathering for around a month, six people of Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish nationalities were arrested in Beirut, Mount Lebanon and the North, including three minors who are famous on the TikTok application,” the ISF statement said.

A judicial official meanwhile told AFP that minors who are famous on TikTok were used to lure other minors who were allegedly "drugged, raped and blackmailed into promoting drugs."

Six individuals arrested so far are suspected of being part of a wider group of 28 people identified in connection with the case, the official said.

The arrests came after children complained to the public prosecution about being "sexually assaulted and photographed by members of an organized gang, and forced to use drugs in hotels," the Internal Security Forces said.

The judicial official said the gang had recruited teenagers outside Lebanon "to lure children on TikTok."

A security official familiar with the investigation told AFP that six victims "not older than 16 years of age" had testified so far.

They were lured through a "clothing shop account offering deals or promises of being featured in advertisements, or through a hair salon or fake social media accounts," the security official said.

Suspects "raped them, filmed the rapes and then made them watch the videos, and blackmailed them, threatening to post the footage (online) if they spoke out," he added.

"The investigation is ongoing... and work is underway to arrest all of the gang members," the police said.

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