BEIRUT: The Internal Security Forces Friday said it would file a lawsuit against a Lebanese journalist who criticized the security agency for the way it prevented a street vendor from working, which the agency said was part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal workers.
“The general directorate of the Internal Security Forces will file a lawsuit against the writer of the article for defamation and slander,” the agency said in a statement, referring to an article published by local daily As-Safir on Friday.
Ghassan Rifi, the writer of the article, led his story with a sarcastic statement about how an eight-member ISF unit carried out a "quality operation" and cordoned off the premises where a Syria vendor was selling grapes.
"Bassam is not a wanted [individual] or a terrorist, he is a refugee roaming the streets of Tripoli with a cart, selling grapes, so that he could spend what he makes on his 10 children,” he wrote.
The writer criticized the ISF's move, saying police officers lashed out in a “militia-style way” when people approached them in an attempt to settle the issue and console the crying vendor.
In its statement, the police force said the vendor had entered Lebanon under a refugee status and that he was receiving aid from international organizations, which prevented him from working on Lebanese territory.
“The work of the ISF was part of a wider campaign to crackdown on street vendors given that they are unlicensed and directly compete with legal vendors nearby,” the statement said.
"Moreover the crackdown on street vendors is a popular demand by Lebanese who have grown fearful in light of the current security situation.”
It also said that the grapes that were confiscated were given to a charity organization in Tripoli.
The ISF denied it had confiscated one of the reporters’ phones to delete pictures, while saying no one had the right to videotape ISF member on duty.