Freedom of Speech under Attack in Lebanon

(MENAFN) A string of court cases and judicial investigations against Lebanese media figures is shedding the light on this country's reputation as a forum for ideas in a region blanketed by censorship and threats to the press.

Ahead of national elections, Lebanese authorities are getting tough on free speech, summoning two leading talk show hosts to court over on-air remarks and sentencing an analyst to jail for comments she made in Washington about the Lebanese army.

A raft of taboos enshrined by law is shielding the country's military, Political leaders, and religious institutions from criticism.

"The Lebanese journalist used to be a pioneer for freedoms for the entire Arab world," said Marcel Ghanem, who is facing a suit because of remarks made by a guest on his highly regarded talk show, Kalam Ennas, in November.

"The vulnerable 'system' needs to be protected," said Hanin Ghaddar, a Lebanese analyst at the Washington Institute, who was sentenced by a military court to six months in prison for comments she made at a U.S. symposium in 2014. Ghaddar, who lives in Washington, said she would not return to Lebanon to serve her sentence.



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