Lebanese editor’s murder remains unsolved

New York, December 12, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned that two years after the Beirut assassination of a prominent Lebanese editor, the perpetrators remain at large.

On December 12, 2005, Gebran Tueni, managing director and columnist for the leading daily Al-Nahar, was killed by a bomb that targeted his armored vehicle in East Beirut. Tueni was also a member of Parliament and a harsh critic of Syrian policies. He was killed the day after he returned home from Paris, where he had spent considerable time because of fears for his safety.

Tueni’s assassination occurred nearly six months after a killing under similar circumstances. Samir Qassir, another leading columnist of Al-Nahar and critic of Syria, was killed outside his home in East Beirut by a bomb placed in his car on June 2, 2005.

To date, the killers of Tueni and Qassir have yet to be identified and brought to justice. Neither have those who masterminded and attempted to carry out the assassination in September 2005 of political talk-show host May Chidiac of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. Chidiac was also a strong critic of Syria. She lost an arm and a leg when a bomb exploded under the driver’s seat of her car near the port city of Jounieh. Her return to her talk show in 2006 spurred admiration among viewers and colleagues for her courage and determination to carry on with her risky job.

The three incidents occurred amid a series of assassination attempts and attacks on journalists and political figures in Lebanon following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005.

“Impunity for those who ruthlessly murder journalists can only embolden the enemies of press freedom today,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “This grim anniversary is a reminder that those responsible for murdering and attacking journalists must be brought to justice without further delay; the failure to do so will only encourage self-censorship and more attacks on independent journalists, not only in Lebanon but throughout the region.”

In May, the U.N. Security Council established an international criminal tribunal empowered to prosecute individuals responsible for Hariri’s assassination and other deadly attacks, including those on journalists in 2005.