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Skyline International condemned arresting Lebanese journalist Fida Itani in charge of libel and slander

Journalist Fidaa Itani has been sentenced in absentia to four months in prison and a fine for comments he posted online critical of caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over the treatment of refugees within the country.

Skyline pointed out that the verdict decision provides the imprisonment of the journalist for two months and compensation totalling 35 million Lebanese pounds equivalent to 23 thousand US dollars, a large amount compared to other cases in the Lebanese courts.

Skyline International said that the sentence against Fida Itani represents a serious violation of the freedom of writing and expression, especially that the complainant is a Lebanese minister authorized by President Michel Aoun. This caused a significant impact on the course of the trial and interference for the sake of the Lebanese official.

The director of the Swedish institution Shereen Awad said that the Lebanese Republic has witnessed a serious decline in press freedoms and freedom of publication since the beginning of last year, which raises serious questions about its future in Lebanon.

Awad explained that the regime in Lebanon is mainly based on sectarian sharing and long-term preservation of public freedoms and media, which made the country a model in the region, but the events that took place during the current year of prosecuting citizens and journalists who expressed their opinions by criticizing Lebanese officials confirmed that this is no longer possible.

She called on the Lebanese authorities to drop the case of Atiani and to protect the public freedoms that are at great risk.

The statement concluded by stressing that the prosecution of journalists or citizens is contrary to the international conventions signed by Lebanon, which puts them in front of moral and legal responsibilities before the international court.