Attacks on the Press in 2007 - Snapshots: Lebanon
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 2008|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2007 - Snapshots: Lebanon, February 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5679dc.html [accessed 25 April 2015]|
The Lebanese Army restricted public access to the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, the day after fighting broke out between Fatah al-Islam – an extremist group in Lebanon – and the Lebanese Army on May 20. Officials initially told journalists it was for safety reasons. Journalists told CPJ at the time that they suspected the army was attempting to hinder coverage of the humanitarian crisis inside the camp, where, according to news reports, more than a dozen civilians were killed and 12,000 refugees forced to flee.
Crews from three different television stations came under attack from civilians while covering the aftermath of a bomb blast in the mountainous town of Aley, to the east of Beirut, on the night of May 23. A crew from the Lebanese satellite-television channel New TV was interviewing residents and filming the site of the explosion when young men suspected of being loyal to anti-Syrian leader Walid Jumblatt attacked them, cameraman Ghassan al-Hagg told CPJ. New TV correspondent Christine Habib said she had been overheard saying that Lebanese residents were severely beating Syrian workers in the area in retribution for bombings. Crews from Iran's state-run Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and Hezbollah's Al-Manar channel escaped unharmed.
Photographer Wael al-Ladifi of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, photographer Asad Ahmad of the Lebanese daily Al-Balad, photographer Ramzy Haidar of Agence France-Presse, and cameraman Ali Tahimi of the Iranian satellite channel Al-Alam said they were beaten by members of the Lebanese Army on May 24. The journalists told CPJ they were covering the exodus of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Nahr el-Bared to the nearby Beddawi camp when Lebanese soldiers warned them not to take pictures. The Lebanese Army Command-Orientation Department later called the journalists to apologize and assure them that those behind the beatings would be punished, the journalists said.
On May 30, the U.N. Security Council established an international criminal tribunal to prosecute the masterminds behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a Beirut bombing in February 2005. The resolution gives the tribunal jurisdiction over the cases of several journalists targeted for assassination prior to and following al-Hariri's murder. They include Gebran Tueni, Al-Nahar managing director and columnist, and Samir Qassir, a prominent columnist for the daily, who were killed by bombs planted in their cars in 2005; and May Chidiac, a political talk-show host with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, who lost an arm and a leg in a car bomb explosion in September of that year. All were strong critics of the Syrian regime, which was alleged to have been involved in al-Hariri's assassination. Their cases remain unsolved.