BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon’s Journalists Union, Elias Aoun, Monday challenged the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's accusations of contempt against Al-Jadeed television and Al-Akhbar newspaper.
“I am addressing you as a media official asking you to deal with the cases of our two colleagues Khayyat and Amin with honesty and impartially,” said Aoun in a letter addressed to the STL judges.
“I also hope the Publications Court in the Lebanese Justice Palace would be the only reference in any dispute between the international tribunal and Lebanese media,” he added.
“I also hope you do not use double standards [in dealing with the Lebanese and international media] especially that I, like the majority of the Lebanese, doubt the truth of the accusation by your court against the two colleagues."
Al-Akhbar newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin and Karma al-Khayyat, the deputy head of news at Al-Jadeed TV, were charged with contempt and with obstructing the work of the STL.
Khayyat last month pleaded not guilty during the STL’s first hearing, while Amin accused the tribunal of "oppression" during a second session he attended via video-link.
The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the Feb. 14, 2005, bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil.
The STL accusations came after Al-Akhbar, a pro-Hezbollah newspaper, published two news reports in January 2013 that included personal details of individuals it said were going to testify in the Hariri case and after reports by Al-Jadeed TV that also revealed alleged witnesses.
Aoun said that the union “received several letter from Lebanese expats voicing surprise at the accusations to the Lebanese press of obstructing the work of the international tribunal.”
He said that the Lebanese judiciary should hold the Lebanese press accountable when mistaken and called on the STL to leave such “trivial” issues and focus on revealing the truth about Hariri’s assassination.