Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin and crowds gathering in show of solidarity watch the hearing from the Press Federation headquarters in Beirut, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Al-Jadeed TV and one of its senior editors pleaded not guilty to charges of contempt in their controversial first hearing at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday, as the court set May 29 as the date for the initial appearance of the Al-Akhbar newspaper's editor-in-chief, who did not attend his hearing.The two media outlets are charged with contempt and obstruction of justice after they published news reports that disclosed details of alleged court witnesses in a case that has sown further division between the tribunal's supporters, who say it is protecting witnesses, and its opponents, who accuse it of throttling freedom of the press. The STL's contempt judge, Nicola Lettieri, who presided over the cases, postponed Amin and Al-Akhbar's hearing until May 29 to allow the newspaper to appoint defense lawyers, while alluding to the fact that the court can hold in absentia hearings.After the sessions, Amin told reporters that two weeks were likely not enough time for him to appoint defense lawyers. He thanked the defense office for understanding the sensitivity of the case and raising the issue of freedom of the press, but he said he would not appear at the hearing unless the STL addressed a number of procedural issues that he said might impede the administration of justice.
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