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Lebanon journalists summoned for interrogation, arrested over ‘fake news’

A poster in support of the Lebanese activists and journalists, Gino Raidy (R), Dima Sadek (C) and Charbel Al-Khoury [Twitter]
A poster in support of the Lebanese activists and journalists, Charbel Al-Khoury (L), Dima Sadek (C) and Gino Raidy [Twitter]

Lebanese activists and journalists, Gino Raidy, Dima Sadek and Charbel Al-Khoury were summoned by the Criminal Investigation Department on Saturday for interrogation by the security authorities for spreading “fake news” about a local party and “inciting sectarianism and racism”.

Al-Khoury was reportedly arrested after questioning this morning, with the defendant’s lawyer announcing: “Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has decided to arrest Charbel.”

The Alternative Syndicate of Journalists called for a protest in solidarity with al-Khoury outside the Cyber Crime Bureau, protesting what it sees as the arbitrary detention of an activist over anti-government posts on social media.

The interrogations of Sadek, a former presenter on local television channel LBC, and Raidy, an online blogger, were postponed by security officials today. It is unknown when the questioning will be rescheduled.

The Alternative Syndicate of Journalists have planned protests of solidarity for when Sadek and Raidy will face interrogation.

Sadek, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and Gebran Bassil, alleged that Bassil, president of the Free Patriotic Movement party, and former foreign minister, had filed the complaint against the activists.

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“Oh, and they asked [security body] if I can give them Gino Raidy’s number so that they could summon him too, but unfortunately I didn’t have it,” Sadek tweeted.

While, Raidy tweeted: “Off to the Cybercrimes Bureau for [Al-Khoury’s] 32nd or something summons to that favourite security agency.”

Several Twitter users jumped to point out Bassil’s hypocrisy, after he tweeted “arresting people for their tweets is outrageous” in June 2013.

Other Twitter users sparked an online campaign of solidarity and support under the slogan “No to police repression”.

The move to interrogate Raidy, Sadek and Al-Khoury comes after four months of anti-government protests which swept the country in October, calling for the overhaul of the sectarian system.

Several activists and journalists faced detention and beating during days of violence in January, while financial journalist, Mohammed Zbeeb, was attacked while leaving a talk in the Beirut district of Hamra, on 12 February.

A number of protests have taken place against activist detention and police brutality, with journalists taking to the streets and briefly closing roads outside the Interior Ministry’s offices in Beirut on 16 January.

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