BEIRUT: The National Audiovisual Media Council slammed Sunday the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s accusations against local media outlets, describing the move as a “blatant violation” of Lebanon’s sovereignty and a tool of intimidation.
“Lebanese laws and the Lebanese judiciary are the only institutions that can deal with the national media and this idea is derived from the Constitution and is concerned with sovereignty,” the council said in a statement.
“The Special Tribunal’s selective accusation against Al-Jadeed and Al-Akhbar is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and harms the freedom of the media,” it added.
Earlier this week, the U.N.-backed court accused Al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Jadeed television of obstructing justice and contempt after the two outlets published a list of alleged STL witnesses.
The court, which is in the process of trying five Hezbollah suspects for involvement in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, also issued summons for the outlet’s editors.
“The media council is committed to the idea that justice cannot be independent of politics unless the media does its duty in revealing facts and informing the public because that is the true expression of transparency,” the statement said.
The council also expressed hope that the media landscape in Lebanon would stand united against the STL move.
“... and for the executive branch to shoulder its responsibility to prevent the court from taking this violation too far which can be described as an organized intimidation operation to prevent the dissemination of facts and harm freedoms the Lebanese consider sacred,” it said.