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Madrid– Skyline International condemns the decision by the Lebanese authorities to arrest a Lebanese engineer for his writings on Facebook as it violates constitutional freedom of expression.

The engineer Riad Al-Assaad was arrested by the Office of Combating Cyber Crimes in Lebanon on Monday 15 July 2019.

According to Lawyer Wasef Al-Harka, the Lebanese authorities continue to violate public freedoms and target those who speak. He explains that “Al-Assaad informed him of a complaint against him, because of a post published on Facebook”, and was later arrested under a decision of the Lebanese Attorney General.

Al-Harka confirms that Al-Assad told him that he did not target anyone in his posts, contrary to what the Lebanese authorities claim. The Lebanese prosecutor threatened Al-Assad with detention if he did not delete the posts where he’s expressing his opinion.

Lawyer Wasef Al-Harka, Al-Assad’s lawyer, stresses that the publication, which was written by his client, is not a violation, since he does not target anyone, but was written on the basis of suspicion of corruption.

“The pace of calling activists and citizens to the Lebanese security centres, has increased recently, especially under actions related to expression of opinion and on the background of publications on social media” says researcher at Skyline International Miqdad Jamil. 

Miqdad also says that the arrest of Al-Assad is a clear violation of the provisions of Lebanese law, which guarantees freedom of expression and is contrary to international conventions, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

He explains that this violation is a continuation of a series of violations by the Lebanese authorities on freedom of expression. Earlier, the organisation monitored numerous calls and arrests against activists, journalists and lawyers.

Forcing citizens to sign pledges, restricting their writings and publications on social media, and preventing them from exercising their legal rights; is both illegal and immoral.

Skyline International says that 2018 witnessed a significant decline in freedom of opinion and expression in Lebanon in return for the escalation of repression against the backdrop of posting in the platforms of social media, amid a charged political and sectarian problems, as well as an increased use of justice and law by officials to pursue citizens and activists.