BEIRUT: Lebanese businessman Hasan Jaber arrived in Beirut Tuesday after being detained in Ethiopia while traveling from Gabon to Beirut via Addis Ababa. He was welcomed at Rafik Hariri International Airport by his family, MP Hani Qobeisi representing Speaker Nabih Berri and Amal Movement’s Parliamentary bloc, and MP Yassine Jaber.
His brother Imad Jaber, who is also the head of the Lebanese diaspora in Gabon, and his lawyer Sharif al-Husseini were also present.
The businessman thanked everyone who had helped with his case, especially Berri and officials in Gabon. He told reporters: “All I can say is that the Israeli Mossad was behind my arrest at the airport in Ethiopia.” He did not provide further details about the allegation.
“It’s the Mossad, how do you think was I treated?” he said in response to a question by a reporter at the airport.
MP Yassine Jaber called on the Lebanese Foreign Ministry to act swiftly on the matter and communicate with Ethiopia.
He also requested for an envoy to be sent to Ethiopia, since many Lebanese citizens use Addis Ababa as a transit point for reaching other countries.
The lawmaker said that the Lebanese ambassador to Egypt who is also the designated ambassador to Ethiopia had never been to Ethiopia and had not presented his credentials to its head of state.
A source from Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said the Lebanese government and ministry had worked in their full capacity to secure Jaber’s release. They played down comments that the ministry had not taken swift action.
Yassine Jaber also thanked Gabonese officials for their efforts and cooperation.
“We need guarantees for Lebanese citizens” the MP said, adding that there were many alternatives to using this route, like Turkey and Europe.
Qobeisi alleged that “the Ethiopian airport is not safe for Lebanese citizens. This was a reprehensible act and is unacceptable.”
He said Berri was working with Middle East Airlines to secure direct flights to Africa.
Qobeisi also alleged that Hasan Jaber’s case showed Mossad had an office in that airport, and called on the Lebanese to find an alternative.
The businessman was detained by Ethiopian authorities under suspicious circumstances while he was transferring between flights last week.