The editor-in-chief and director of the Nidaa al-Watan Lebanese daily appeared on Wednesday before acting State Prosecutor Imad Qabalan over the daily’s publishing of a headline that was critical of Iran.
Editor-in-Chief Beshara Charbel and managing director George Berbary were ordered to appear in court for the headline, “New ambassadors in Baabda… Welcome to the Khamenei republic.”
Qabalan referred them to the appellate general prosecution in Beirut.
A sit-in in solidarity with the Charbel and Berbary was held in front of the Justice Palace.
Ahead of the hearing, head of the editor’s syndicate Joseph al-Qusaibi met with General Prosecutor Ghassan Ouweidat and Qabalan to request that the case be handled by the Press Offenses Court because it has jurisdiction over such affairs.
Speaking in front of the Justice Palace, Charbel declared: “We have nothing to justify. Our right to freedom of expression is safeguarded by the constitution. This is a right granted to us by law and we are practicing it.”
“We came here today to underscore our right to freedom of expression,” he added.
“We want the decision of war and peace to be in the hands of the state. We did not attack the presidency,” he continued.
Former minister Ghazi al-Aridi was also present at the sit-in.
He said: “We can only stand by freedom of opinion. This is the position of Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat. We adamantly reject the targeting of the newspaper and journalists.”
MP Butros Harb expressed his support to Nidaa al-Watan, saying it had played its “natural role and practiced its right to freedom of speech.”
A lawyer, Harb said he volunteers to defend the newspaper as part of his “national and professional duty.”