Four Lebanese TV journalists fined for defamation and false news

Beirut’s Publication Court, headed by Judge Roukoz Rizk, on July 17, 2017, fined Mariam al-Bassam, head of News and Political Programs at the Lebanese broadcaster Al-Jadeed, Riyad Kobaissi, the head of the station’s investigative unit, Rami al-Amine, a reporter for the station, and Layal Mousa, an assistant reporter at the station, 2 million Lebanese pounds (U.S. $1,500) each for defamation, slander, humiliation, intimidation, and spreading “false news,” according to news reports.

Lebanese lawyer Sassine Karam, head of the Good Samaritan Association, brought a criminal complaint against the journalists in early 2014, claiming that an Al-Jadeed program alleging he made misleading statements while fundraising for a shelter for elderly people was defamatory, news reports said.

The next day, Karam released a statement announcing legal actions against all the persons involved in the TV program on charges of defamation, slander, and intimidation.

“We gave him the right to defend himself on camera,” Riad Kobaissi told CPJ. “He was collecting money from people claiming that it was for an already existing center for elderly people. When we confronted him, he said he was actually planning to build that center, but that wasn’t what he said when he collected the money. And we still broadcasted his reply. The judge said that Al-Jadeed should not be blamed, and fined each one of us $1,000, not because we said something wrong, but because we defamed him.”

Karam did not immediately return CPJ’s message on Facebook requesting comment.