Articles related to the Guardians of the Cedars and the arrests of anti-Syrian activists - Habib Younes And Claude Hajjar

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The Military Tribunal on Wednesday 21 of March acquitted Claudia Hajjar, Joseph Tawk, Antoine Saba and Ousama Ayyoub. After months of uncertainty and several long sessions of interrogation and intimidation, the ordeal is almost over for some.

Habib Younis on the other hand has been sentenced to 3 years in jail with hard labour. His lawyers will appeal the court's verdict.

The same Tribunal has given Abu Arz, the commander of the GoC, another death sentence in absentia for allegedly inciting the other defendants to collaborate with Israel.

Although some are off the hook at present, this matter seems far from over for our friends and comrades. The Lebanese Puppet regime with its President Mr. Lahoud will not quit putting on these shows to amuse their Syrian masters in Anjar.

To him we say: The day will soon come were all of you dwarfs and puppets who presently rule our country will be put to trial yourselves. The hunter will become the hunted and the jailer will become the jailed - so help us God.


Article 1 - 24/08/01  Hajjar fights back: ‘I’ve never seen an Israeli’

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Daily Star staff

Claude Hajjar, who was released on Wednesday after being interrogated as a witness in the case against Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes, expressed outrage at newspaper reports alleging that she had attended a meeting where Israelis were present.
A report in An-Nahar on Thursday had quoted “informed sources” familiar with the investigation as saying that Hajjar had attended an April 14 meeting in Cyprus that grouped Israeli official Odid Zaray, Younes and Etienne Saqr, the president of the civil war-era party the Guardians of the Cedars, which was allied with the South Lebanon Army militia. 
Saqr has been in self-imposed exile since the 1980s, residing mainly in Israel. 
Hajjar told The Daily Star on Thursday that she is good friends with Younes and has been a friend of the Saqr family since 1989. 
“It’s such a shame that newspapers should … play with the fate of people and their families,” she said. “If they saw what they’re doing to people in there (detention centers), it’s worse than World War II. 
“I have never seen an Israeli in my life, except on TV,” she added, outraged. “I only went to Cyprus to visit Saqr, because they (the Saqrs) are my best friends. Aren’t we allowed to visit out friends anymore?” 
Although Hajjar acknowledged that she was not subjected to physical torture while being interrogated, she described the psychological pressure as “enormous.” 
“In three days, I was interrogated by eight people, about three times each,” she said. 
Hajjar was picked up from her apartment in the Safra Marine beach resort by plainclothes security agents early Monday. 
Her 21-year-old daughter was also detained, but released later that afternoon. 
Hajjar said she could not imagine Younes being involved in anything. “He’s a very honest man,” she said. 
Hajjar said that Younes had been a member of the Guardians of the Cedars for 25 years. When Younes heard that Saqr was in Cyprus, he traveled to the island, where he spent one-and-a-half days. 
l Nine political activists who remained in prison because they could not afford the LL3 million bail set for their release were freed Thursday afternoon after the payment was reduced to LL1 million. 
The Free Patriotic Movement supporters were among some 200 activists rounded up in a security sweep between Aug. 7-9. 
While the Military Tribunal had listed some 75 activists for release on Monday night, 11 remained in custody because they could not afford the LL3 million bail. 
Two of them later managed to raise the amount from friends and relatives and were subsequently released. 
On Tuesday, Jean Selwan, the lawyer of the remaining nine, asked for a reduction of the bail amount on the grounds that the activists were all students and could not afford the sum. 
The Military Tribunal agreed Wednesday to reduce bail to LL1 million. The FPM supporters were released on Thursday. 
An FPM spokesperson said that many people have offered to pay bail for the detainees, including those who were released on Monday. 
“As you know these are harsh economic times, and many people had to borrow money to pay their children’s bail,” said the spokesperson. “But it’s really beautiful to know that more than 30 people have already contacted us to offer their help.” 
Meanwhile, a Beirut court is examining whether to try lawyer Ziad Aswad, an FPM activist, on charges that he belongs to an unlicensed group and has joined unlicensed demonstrations. 
Aswad was arrested and reportedly beaten up by plainclothes intelligence agents in front of the Justice Palace on Aug. 9, and was released without bail on Monday. As a lawyer, Aswad can only be prosecuted after the court obtains permission from the Bar Association.


Article 2 - 27/08/01  Claude Hajjar back on hook

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Daily Star staff

Charges will be brought against Claude Hajjar, who was interrogated last week as a witness in the case against Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes, Hajjar was informed over the weekend. 
“I still don’t know on what charges I will be tried,” she told The Daily Star on Sunday. 
Hajjar said that she was given a summons writ that simply read: “You are accused.” 
Hajjar’s attorney, Jean Selwan, said he will learn of the charges against Hajjar on Thursday, when she is scheduled to appear before Military Investigating Magistrate Abdullah Hajj. 
Hajjar visited Etienne Saqr, head of the Guardians of the Cedars Party, in Cyprus on April 14. Younes was also present at that meeting, which also allegedly included Odid Zaray, press attache to Uri Lubrani, the former coordinator of Israeli activities in Lebanon. 
Hajjar was detained for three days last week, interrogated and subsequently released. But she expects to be tried this week in the same case. 
“I only accepted to represent her because I believe she is not involved in Israeli plots,” Selwan said. “She told me if at any point during the trial proof emerges that she was involved with Israelis, she would allow me to withdraw my representation.” 
On Tuesday Hajj will further interrogate Tawfiq Hindi, adviser to Samir Geagea, jailed leader of the disbanded Lebanese Forces. 
He will also interrogate journalist Antoine Bassil in the case against Habib Younes. 
On Saturday, businessman Jamal Nasser was formally arrested on charges of collaborating with Israel, violating an Israeli boycott and bringing Israeli goods into the country. He faces between three and 15 years imprisonment. 
Nasser, who was taken into custody on Thursday,  allegedly traded in Israeli-made clothing with Zaray, despite knowing the Israeli’s true identity.


Article 3 - 29/08/01  Hindi's interrogations postponed

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Daily Star staff

The Military Tribunal indefinitely postponed Lebanese Forces official Tawfiq Hindi’s interrogation on Tuesday on the grounds that he had yet to be transferred to the tribunal. 
Meanwhile, judicial proceedings against Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes and activist Claude Hajjar are set to pick up on Thursday. 
Hindi was scheduled to be interrogated again by Military Investigating Magistrate Abdullah Hajj. 
Chief Military Prosecutor Nasri Lahoud charged Hindi last week with “contacting and collaborating with Israel to undermine state authority and disturb relations with a sisterly country,” a reference to Syria. 
Hindi, who was an adviser to jailed LF leader Samir Geagea, allegedly had long-standing relations with Israel through his contacts with Odid Zaray, press attache to Uri Lubrani, the former coordinator for Israeli activities in Lebanon. 
Lahoud also accused Hindi of discussing with Israeli officials ways to support a potential Lebanese presidential candidate. 
Hindi was interrogated by Hajj last week, in the presence of his lawyer Charles Harb. 
If Hajj finds sufficient grounds to prosecute Hindi, the case will be referred to the Military Tribunal for trial and sentencing. If convicted of the charges, Hindi could face the death penalty. 
Similarly, Younes, who has been charged with eight felonies, including two that carry the death penalty, also faces charges of “contacting the Israeli enemy, spreading disinformation to the benefit of Israel, collaborating (with the enemy) to help them conquer and enter his own country and undermine state authority and prestige, and disturbing Lebanese ties with a sisterly country by disclosing information to the enemy.” 
Younes is scheduled to be interrogated again in the presence of journalist Antoine Bassil on Thursday. Bassil, who is the Beirut correspondent for the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation’s television station, also faces the same charges. 
One of Younes’ lawyers, Riad Matar, told The Daily Star on Tuesday that he intends to request his client’s release after the scheduled interrogation on Thursday. 
“I believe that Habib is a victim and doesn’t deserve to be detained, not even for one minute,” Matar said, adding that all preliminary interrogations are considered “null” because the Judicial Police have no authority to conduct them. 
“We’re hoarse from repeating that the Judicial Police have no right to conduct interrogations; only the judge has that right,” he said. 
Hajjar, a human rights and environmental activist, may also face prosecution on Thursday, when she appears before Hajj for interrogation on undisclosed charges. 
Hajjar was taken into custody for three days last week. She was interrogated in the case against Younes and was subsequently released. 
Younes allegedly met with Zaray on April 14, in the presence of Etienne Saqr, the leader of the Guardians of the Cedars party, who left the country last year following Israel’s withdrawal from the South. 
Hajjar, who says she has been a friend of the Saqr family for 12 years, visited Saqr in Cyprus on April 14 but denies meeting with any Israelis.


Article 4 - 30/08/01  Harb: Confessions were 'dictated' by inbestigators under 'threat of torture'

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Daily Star correspondent

A team of lawyers defending two prominent detainees held on charges of collaborating with Israel said Wednesday their clients denied making confessions attributed to them, saying they were “dictated” by investigators. 
The head of the legal team, Batroun MP Butros Harb, issued a statement saying that Tawfiq Hindi, an adviser to jailed Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes were forced to sign testimonies “without seeing or checking the contents.” 
They did so to “avoid torture and material or moral pressure to which they were subjected,” the statement said. 
“This renders the investigations completely null, especially since the detainees have notified the military investigating magistrate of what they were exposed to and denied all that was attributed to them during the first interrogation.” 
The statement said the team of lawyers had separate meetings with Hindi and Younes, as well as with Free Patriotic Movement activist Antoine Khoury Harb at Roumieh Prison. 
The three detainees recounted to the attorneys the phases of their incarceration and the “inhumane and illegal methods they were exposed to during interrogations at the Defense Ministry,” it added. 
State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum will be briefed Thursday by Military Investigating Magistrate Abdullah Hajj on developments of investigations of those accused of collaborating with Israel. 
These include Antoine Bassil, who worked with the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation’s television station. 
Hajj is also due to simultaneously interrogate Younes and Bassil on Thursday. 
Meanwhile, Addoum received a letter from director-general of State Security, Major General Edward Mansour, requesting an investigation into a report released by Cedar Watch International, a US-based Christian-Lebanese human rights group. 
The report claimed that attacks on student protesters outside the Justice Palace on Aug. 9 were carried out by state security personnel under Mansour’s orders. It also described the state security agency as a “militia.” 
Addoum referred Mansour’s letter to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for investigation. 
l Imprisoned Free Patriotic Movement activist Tony Orien is still hospitalized and being fed intravenously at Dahr al-Basheq public hospital in Roumieh, where he has been since Monday night. 
His mother Layla was not allowed to visit him on Wednesday. She said she waved to him from a distance and realized that “one of his hands was handcuffed to the bed. 
“I knew that the security guards received a memo on Wednesday banning all visitors,” she told The Daily Star. 
Orien, 25, began a hunger strike last Thursday. He is serving a six-week sentence for distributing flyers criticizing President Emile Lahoud and Syria.


Article 5 - 21/09/01 Jailed journalist (Habib Younes) in Lebanon asks Chirac for help

BEIRUT, Sep 21 (AFP) - A Lebanese journalist arrested in a crackdown on anti-Syrian Christians for alleged links with Israel and who could face the death penalty has written to French President Jacques Chirac to ask for help.

"If I did not believe firmly in freedom and democracy in France, I would not have written this letter to ask for your particular attention during your meetings with Lebanese officials," Habib Younes, managing editor of the Beirut edition of the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, said in an open letter published by the French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour on Friday.

Chirac is expected to be among the 55 leaders who attend the October 26-28 meeting in Beirut of French-speaking nations.

"I am accused of having contacts with the Israeli enemy in Cyprus, which is punishable under Lebanese law. However, my entire life proves to what point I am attached to the respect of Lebanese law," said Younes, who was a Christian militant during the country's 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.

He was arrested on August 18 by army intelligence services during a sweeping crackdown against Christian groups opposed to Syria's political and military dominance over their country.

He was charged, along with another journalist, with "contacts with the Israeli enemy," which can still draw the death penalty despite the Jewish state's withdrawal from south Lebanon in May 2000 after 22 years.

Younes noted to Chirac that he now "expected to miss his professional duty" during the International Francophonie Organisation (OIF) summit because of the serious charges facing him.

He also told the French president that he was asking for his freedom to say "goodbye" to his "gravely ill father."

Antoine Bassil, a correspondent for Saudi-owned MBC radio, was also arrested in early August in moves that were condemned by several nations, including France, and by press freedom groups.


 3 articles from the RSF

September 21 - 2001

For the Francophone summit, RSF asks for the release of two journalists

 With only one month remaining to the Francophone Summit, to be held in October in Lebanon, Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF), asks the French authorities, and President Jacques Chirac, to put pressure the Lebanese government to obtain the release of journalists Antoine Bassil and Habib Younis, in jail respectively since 16 August 2001 and 19 August 2001. RSF recalls Article 1 of the "Francophone Charter", which stipulates that "Francophonie has, as an aim to help (…) sustain human rights." "It is inadmissible that such practices exist in a country which expressed satisfaction at hosting the Francophone Summit," said Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF.

Antoine Bassil, correspondent in Lebanon for the Saudi radio station MBC, was arrested on 16 August 2001, at his home in Ballouné (north-east of Beirut) by two men from army intelligence services in plainclothes. Habib Younes, editor of the Lebanese desk of the Saudi daily Al Hayat, was also arrested at his home in Jbeil (north of Beirut), on 18 August 2001, by intelligence agents. Both were accused of "contact with the enemy", meaning Israelis, and they risk from fifteen years in jail to the death penalty, if they are found guilty.

According to the wife of Habib Younes, her husband was subjected to "psychological pressure". The journalist wrote a letter, on 21 September, to French president Jacques Chirac, asking him to personally petition Lebanese authorities to obtain his release. Since his father is in very poor health, Habib Younis wants to be by his side. These two arrests follow raids from 5 to 8 August 2001, by army intelligence agents, against anti-Syrian Christian opposition groups.


August 31 2001

Two journalists still in jail

 In a letter to the President of the Republic, Emile Lahoud, RSF protested against the detention of journalists Antoine Bassil and Habib Younes. The organisation asked him to intervene personally in order to have these journalists released. "We are very concerned about these two journalists. They risk from fifteen years in jail to the death penalty if they are found guilty" said Robert Ménard, genreral secretary of the organisation. "We are also very worried about recent lawsuits against the daily An Nahar. It is inadmissible that such practices exist in a country which expressed satisfaction at hosting the Fench-speaking Summit", he added. RSF noted that on 21 August, in a letter to President Lahoud, it asked for the release of the two journalists.

According to information collected by RSF, Antoine Bassil, correspondant in Lebanon of the Saudi radio station MBC, was arrested on 16 August 2001, at his Ballouné home (north-east of Beirut) by two men from army intelligence services, in plainclothes. Habib Younes, editing secretary of the Lebanese desk of the Saudi daily Al Hayat, was also arrested at his home, in Jbeil (north of Beirut), on 18 August 2001, by intelligence service men. Both accused of "contact with the enemy", they risk from fifteen years in jail to the death penalty, if they are found guilty.

The two journalists' homes were searched, including their libraries and their personal archives. According to his lawyer, Boutros Harb, Habib Younes, allegedly signed a full confession "through fear  of violence and under constraint". According to the wife of Habib Younes, her husband was subjected to "psychological pressure".

These two arrests follow raids from 5 to 8 August 2001 by army intelligence services, in anti Syrian Christian opposition groups.

Moreover, the daily An Nahar is charged for "defaming the army", for an article published on 9 August on the Lebanese army and military service. An action has been brought against the author of the article, Raphi Madoyan, candidate in the 2000 parliamentary elections, and the editor-in-chief at An Nahar, Joseph Nasr.


August 21 2001

Two journalists arrested

 In a letter to President Emile Lahoud, RSF protested the arrests of journalists Antoine Bassil and Habib Younis and expressed its profound concern about the charges weighing against them. "These arrests were carried out illegally. Freedom of expression is increasingly threatened in Lebanon today. There is a clear determination on the part of the intelligence services to muzzle the media," said Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general. Moreover, RSF recalled that on 9 August 2001, a Council of Ministers press release included remarks that threaten media pluralism in Lebanon.

According to information collected by RSF, on 16 August, three men from the army's intelligence services arrested Antoine Bassil, a correspondent from the Saudi Arabian television station MBC, at his home in Ballouné (north-east of Beirut). The Military Tribunal is prosecuting the journalist for "contact with the enemy, entry into enemy territory, forming an association in order to sabotage the state's authority and damaging relations with a brother country" and "transmission of information to the enemy." The journalist could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.

On 19 August, Habib Younis, a senior editor at the daily Al Hayat, was arrested at his home in Jbeil (north of Beirut) by intelligence services agents. The director of military intelligence, Raymond Azar, informed Melhem Karam, president of the journalists' union, that Habib Younis' arrest came "before he went to a planned Sunday meeting in Cyprus with [Odid] Zaray," an Israeli official. Al Hayath stated that the journalist could not have gone to Cyprus since he was scheduled to be on duty at the newspaper's office that day. The daily added that it was informed that Habib Younis' name had been "mentioned during interrogation of Antoine Bassil," who allegedly stated that he had arranged a meeting for the journalist with Odid Zaray. The two arrests were carried out without arrest warrants and the journalists were interrogated without lawyers present. These events have taken place in the context of a series of raids by the army's intelligence services against anti-Syrian Christian militias since early August.

Moreover, on 9 August, two journalists were assaulted and a third journalist was arrested in front of the law courts in Beirut. They were covering a demonstration against a wave of arrests of activists and sympathisers of the Free National Current (Courant patriotique libre, CPL) and the Lebanese Forces (Forces libanaises) on 5 and 7 August in Beirut. Hussein el Moulla, an Associated Press agency photographer, was beaten by an intelligence services agent in civilian clothes who was mingling with the crowd of demonstrators, just as he was taking a picture of him. Sami Ayad, a photographer from the daily "An Nahar", was photographing demonstrators who were roughed up by intelligence services agents when unidentified persons demanded that he hand over his film. He refused and was beaten by them until he managed to take flight. Yehia Houjairi, a cameraman from the official Kuwaiti television station, was arrested by police officers as he was filming the demonstration. The president of the photographers' union had to intervene in order to secure his release a short time later.

That same day, following the Council of Ministers' meeting, Minister of Information Ghazi Aridi read a statement and said he was "responsible for putting the clauses of the media law into effect," in order to stop the "mistakes by media outlets which threaten state security." The previous evening, the National Audio-visual Council (Conseil national de l'audiovisuel, CNA) sent a document to the Council of Ministers concerning audio-visual media outlets' coverage of 7 and 8 August events. The report specified that the MTV television station (reputed to be close to General Aoun) "did not respect the pluralistic character of the information..., incited the concern of viewers by provoking fear that there would be a change in the nature of Lebanon's democratic regime...[and] openly defied the political and security institutions, thereby threatening public order."


 Article from the Dailystar 12/12/01 Younes, Bassil, Saqr and Saba indicted 
‘Conspiring with the enemy’ charge could bring death sentence

 Youssef Diab
Daily Star correspondent

The judiciary on Monday indicted Al-Hayat’s editorial secretary Habib Younes and media figure Antoine Bassil, together with two others on charges of conspiracy with the Israeli enemy ­ a charge that carries a possible death sentence. 
The two others include the leader of the Guardians of the Cedars, Etienne Saqr, and one of his followers, Antoine Saba, also known as Antoine Shalfoun. 
The four were accused of plotting to help the Israeli Army, forming a group aimed at undermining the authority of the Lebanese state, revealing crucial information to the enemy and entering Israel. 
Meanwhile, three others, Claude Hajjar, Osama Ayoub and Joseph Tawq, were also accused of contacting the enemy and could face jail terms of up to 15 years. 
The seven now have to face trial by the Military Tribunal. 
Although Bassil and Younes have been in custody for four months, the others remain free. Saqr has already been tried in absentia on other charges and was sentenced to death.

 The official indictment highlighted Bassil’s and Younes’ contacts with the Israelis as far back as 1982, during the course of their duties as journalists for the Phalange Party’s daily newspaper, Al-Amal. 
Younes previously worked in the paper’s international affairs section, which was headed by Bassil. 
According to the indictment, Bassil agreed with the deputy coordinator of the Israeli activities in Lebanon, Odid Zaray, to exchange information about the prevailing situation in Lebanon. After receiving the information, Zaray would send, in return, some material that Bassil would then publish under the pen name of Samir Karam. 
The indictment said the relationship between Zaray and Bassil continued until 1985, when Bassil left his job at Al-Amal and began working for the CBN television station and the Israeli-run Middle East Television station. Bassil was based in Marjayoun, where Younes used to supply him with information on the situation in the liberated areas. 
The indictment said that following this phase, Younes was contacted by Saqr, who was living in Achrafieh. Saqr told Younes that the Voice of the South radio station was looking for a correspondent in the liberated areas and told him to go to Israel to meet with the radio station’s managers.

 Younes, according to the indictment, took the ferryboat from Beirut to Naqoura and then drove to the radio station’s compound in Metulla. There, Younes met with the radio station’s manager, an Israeli calling himself Salim Nasri, before being driven to Tel Aviv to meet the coordinator of Israeli activities in Lebanon, Uri Lubrani. 
Lubrani urged Younes to supply him with all the required information on the Lebanese domestic scene. It was agreed that Younes would send Lubrani a weekly message on cassette tape about the liberated areas, with a special focus on the Shiite areas. 
The day after the meeting with Lubrani, Antoine Saba came to see Younes along with an Israeli Army intelligence agent, known by the code name of Shlomo. The two drove Younes to Marjayoun to spend the night and he subsequently returned to Beirut. 
A few days later, Younes taped his first message about the war of the Palestinian camps and the attitude of Shiite leaders toward the Palestinians. He would send the tape to Zaray and this practice continued until 1990.

 Because of the deterioration in the security situation, Saqr moved out of Beirut and settled in Jezzine. From time to time, Younes would go to Jezzine to meet with Saqr and brief him on the latest developments. During this time, Saqr was in constant touch with Israeli top leaders such as Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. 
In 1991, Younes allegedly sent a full report to the Israelis detailing the political affiliations of the Lebanese team that was negotiating a settlement with Israel. 
The indictment said that in 1996, Younes received a phone call from Zaray, who was in Washington and told Younes to go work for Israel’s Arabic language radio station, broadcasting from Israel. 
During a weekly program, the station broadcast Younes’ reports, which were critical of the Syrian Army’s presence in Lebanon, but did not attach his name to those reports.

 The indictment also said that Younes went to Cyprus in May 2001, along with Hajjar, Tawq and photographer Ayoub to meet with Saqr. 
There, they agreed to revive the Guardians of the Cedars, take part in demonstrations calling for a Syrian withdrawal, and launch student cells throughout Lebanese universities.


 Article from the Dailystar 26 March 2002 Hindi 3 Years, Younis 3 Years, Bassil 4 Years

Samir Geagea's former political advisor Toufic Hindi has been sentenced to three years in jail on a charge of collaborating with Israel to agitate against Syria's role in Lebanon. He was also stripped from his civil rights.
The Beirut military tribunal handed down the verdict shortly before midnight Tuesday-Wednesday, giving journalists Habib Younis of Al Hayat a 3-year term and Antoine Bassil four years on the same charge. They were stripped of political rights too.

Hindi's wife, journalist Claude Abu Nader, burst in tears as presiding judge Brig. Gen. Maher Safieddine read out the sentences at an open session of the three-man tribunal.

"This is a political verdict to cover up the campaign of repression which is still going on," she sobbed, hugging her 9-year-old son. "My husband is a scapegoat."

Butros Harb, the defense attorney of Hindi and Younis, said he would appeal the sentences inside of the legal period of 15 days, calling them a "disillusion."

The court also sentenced the one-time security chief of Geagea's Lebanese Forces Ghassan Touma, to death in absentia for allegedly inciting the other defendants to collaborate with Israel.

Etienne Saqr, code-named Abu Arz, leader of the now defunct Cedar Guards civil war militia, also given a death sentence in absentia on the same grounds.

It was the second absentia death sentence for Touma, who lives in the United States, and Abu Arz, who lives in Israel. Both were stripped of national rights.

Two senior activists of Gen. Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, Salam Samaha and Elie Kayrouz, were cleared by the court from a charge of withholding information from the authorities about anti-Syria activity.


 Article from the Dailystar March 2002 MP Gemayel terms Younes verdict ‘political’ 

Daily Star

Metn MP Pierre Gemayel said Tuesday that the verdict issued against journalist Habib Younes was “political” rather than judicial.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the International Catholic Media Federation on the issue of freedom in journalism and the verdict issued against Younes, Gemayel said the verdict was “revengeful and disciplinary rather than (the result of) a legal trial.”

The seminar was attended by Younes’ lawyer Riad Matar, Younes’ wife Mireille Qassas, and several journalists and university professors who are members of the federation.

Gemayel said the Lebanese should prevent their political system from drifting toward the methods of other regimes, an apparent reference to interference of security agencies. According to Matar, Younes’ questioning was carried out by intelligence services and not by security forces, “which is a flagrant legal violation.”

The Military Tribunal sentenced Younes to a three-year jail term with hard labor last week after he was convicted of collaboration with Israel.