Lebanon News

Al-Jadeed television journalists receive death threats

Journalists gather at the entrance of Al-Jadeed TV headquarters in Beirut June 25, 2012. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

BEIRUT: Al-Jadeed television officials have received death threats in the wake of a controversial interview with Sheikh Ahmad Assir, station officials said Wednesday.

Mariam Bassam and Karma Khayyat, from the news division, were targeted by telephone threats, a source from the station told The Daily Star.

The Amal Movement condemned Wednesday the attack on Al-Jadeed in Beirut earlier this week and all other attacks that target the freedom of the press in the country.

“The attack on Al-Jadeed is an attack on the press, media and freedom of expression,” said a statement released by Amal.

The statement called on the authorities to undertake all the necessary measures to protect the media.

The attack was condemned by the March 14 General Secretariat, saying it was part of a plan targeting civil peace.

Sheikh Ahmad Assir, whose appearance on the station triggered the attack on Al-Jadeed, also issued a statement in which he condemned the attack, adding that he did so “despite the insult” directed at him by the station.

He was referring to the station’s apology for airing the interview.

For its part, media watchdog SKeyes condemned the authorities’ failure to take decisive action in the wake of the attack on Al-Jadeed.

Judicial sources have told The Daily Star that the ISF’s Information Branch was conducting investigations into the attack under the supervision of the Public Prosecution and added that Public Prosecutor Saeed Mirza was directly following up on the probe.

Security sources told The Daily Star Tuesday that the attackers of the station and the masked men who subsequently blocked several roads in the capital were connected to the Hezbollah-linked Resistance Brigades.

A group of gunmen burned tires at the entrance of Al-Jadeed and fired gunshots at the building Monday night, causing material damage.

Wissam Alaaeddine, a suspect in the attack, was apprehended at the scene, prompting masked gunmen to close off several Beirut roads with burning tires.

The TV station had last week interviewed controversial Sidon-based Assir, who warned Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri that he would confront them every day peacefully.

Security sources told LBCI television Wednesday that Alaaeddine admitted during preliminary interrogations that his group’s attack on Al-Jadeed was aimed at sending a message to the media, following Assir’s remarks against Berri and Nasrallah.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 28, 2012, on page 3.




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