BEIRUT: Former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed handed Lebanon’s general prosecutor audio recordings allegedly implicating MP Oqab Saqr in funding and arming Syrian rebels, Sayyed’s press office said Tuesday.
“[Sayyed] has placed at the disposal of General Prosecutor Hatem Madi an original copy of a CD containing four phone calls between Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr and armed group in Syria,” a statement by Sayyed said.
It added that the recordings would assist the prosecutor’s office with the ongoing investigation in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Saqr’s lawsuit against Al-Akhbar newspaper and OTV accusing the media outlets of manipulating audio tapes to implicate the lawmaker.
Late last year, OTV aired audio-recordings of Saqr allegedly discussing with Syrian rebels arms transfer. In one of the recordings, Saqr says Hariri wants rebel groups to defeat regime forces. The recordings were also published by Al-Akhbar.
Days later, Saqr appeared in a news conference in Istanbul, saying his remarks were taken out of context. He said he was tasked by Hariri, head of the Future Movement, to merely provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.
The MP aired what he said were the complete audio recordings. In them he appears to turn down a request by rebels to provide them with arms and negotiates the release of nine Lebanese kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army.
OTV and Al-Akhbar have said the audio recording Saqr presented was fabricated.
Hariri and Saqr then sued the outlets for defamation and inciting sectarian sentiments for publishing “false news.”
Weeks after the Lebanese media aired the audio tapes, Syrian state television broadcast what it said were audio recordings between Saqr and rebels with regards to transferring funds and high-tech communication devices.
In his statement Tuesday, Sayyed said the recordings he provided to the general prosecutor are those of Damascus’ public TV.
“These recordings have been received by a researcher and Syrian media personality Rafiq Lutf via the Syrian state television which it broadcast a week ago. It includes phone conversations of Saqr discussing money transfers to armed individuals, asking them to unite their ranks and end fragmentation,” Sayyed said.
He added that the CD also includes the Future Movement MP telling the rebels that he would supply them with “modern communication devices that use satellites,” which the rebels have complained of a shortage of.
“The recordings expose MP Saqr's commitment to handing armed individuals modern equipment that ‘makes miracles,’ as he said, in the face of the Syrian regime forces,” the former security chief added.
The general prosecutor is also examining a case against Saqr over the same recordings after a Lebanese lawyer appointed by the Syrian Embassy filed a lawsuit last week in a Beirut court against the Future Movement lawmaker, accusing him of “acts of terror,” including jeopardizing Syria’s security.
Syria has issued warrants for Hariri, Saqr and Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Meqdad over the claims of providing weapons and funds to “terrorist groups” in Syria based on the controversial recordings.