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Police guard Lebanon's Ministry of Telecommunications in this April 14, 2014, file photo. (Reuters/Sharif Karim)

Lebanese minister prevents three journalists from attending news conference

June 30, 2017 12:28 PM ET

Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Jamal al-Jarrah prevented Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) reporter Bassam Abou Zeid, LBCI cameraman Zaki Fagali, and Al-Jadeed TV cameraman Mohammad al-Samra from covering a June 22, 2017, news conference in Beirut, according to news reports and the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.

Al-Jarrah had called the news conference to announce the winner of a bid to replace time-division-multiplexing (TDM) switches with the new IP Multimedia Core Network Subsystem (IMS), news reports said. During the news conference, Al-Jarrah said that some media outlets had been denied access to the ministry because they spread false rumors, according to Skeyes.

Al-Jadeed TV's Al-Samra told CPJ that when he and his colleagues arrived at the ministry building for the press conference, a soldier told that LBCI and Al-Jadeed were forbidden from entering the building to cover the minister's news conference. No reason was given for denying them access to the news conference.

Al-Jarrah, in an interview with Lebanon's MTV TV channel the following day, justified his decision by accusing LBCI and Al-Jadeed of launching smear campaigns against him, with funding from political parties. He also accused LBCI of hiding documents on Lebanese telecommunications company Global Data Services that he said he showed to LBCI reporter Maroun Nasif during an interview aired by LBCI on May 18, 2017.

In a news bulletin aired by LBCI on June 24, 2017, Maroun denied having received any documents from the minister.

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