BEIRUT: Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui bears responsibility for any unrest should he refuse to provide telecoms data to security agencies probing political assassinations, Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned in remarks published Tuesday.
“We cannot hinder the work of security agencies, otherwise let him [Sehnaoui] bear the responsibility for any unrest that could ensue for not providing telecoms data,” Mikati said in remarks to An-Nahar newspaper.
Sehnaoui “will have to comply with the request and not object to it,” Mikati added.
His remarks came after Mikati signed a request to provide security agencies with telecoms data deemed necessary for probing politically motivated assassinations in Lebanon.
A source close to Mikati told The Daily Star that the prime minister signed the request Friday and referred it to the Telecoms Ministry.
Sources in MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, to which Sehnaoui belongs, reiterated that this matter, according to the law, falls within the prerogatives of the telecoms minister and not the prime minister.
Neamatallah Abi Nasr, an MP in Aoun's bloc, outright rejected providing security bodies telecoms data without seeking judicial permission.
“Providing telecoms data without referral to the concerned judicial committee is rejected,” Abi Nasr told the Voice of Lebanon radio station Tuesday.
“Rendering citizens’ privacy public is not acceptable,” he added.
Ministerial sources in the March 8 coalition expect a heated debate during Wednesday’s Cabinet session if Sehnaoui refuses to comply with Mikati’s order and provide the data.
Whether security agencies should be able to access telecoms data has become a contentious issue between the March 8 and March 14 parties.