Police officers are seen at the Beirut, Lebanon, office of broadcaster Al-Jadeed on February 15, 2017. A group of presidential supporters recently attacked the office. (Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

Supporters of Lebanese president attack Al-Jadeed TV office in Beirut

New York, December 16, 2020 — Lebanese authorities should do their utmost to identify and hold to account those responsible for the attack on the Beirut office of independent broadcaster Al-Jadeed TV, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday evening, a group of about 10 people wearing masks gathered at Al-Jadeed TV’s Beirut office and threw stones, sticks, and garbage at the building, and spray-painted slogans in support of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, according to news reports and reports by the broadcaster and the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, a regional press freedom group.

The attack occurred shortly after the broadcaster aired a report that questioned Aoun’s ability to lead the country. The attackers shouted “Tahseen Khayyat thief,” in reference to the owner of the broadcaster, according to those reports.

Those reports show extensive garbage and graffiti at the office building, but do not report any significant damage or injuries.

“Those who attacked Al-Jadeed TV’s Beirut office should be swiftly held to account to show that attacks on the media will not be tolerated in Lebanon,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Lebanese authorities should take steps to ensure the safety of journalists regardless of the outlet they work for and their political views.”

Al-Jadeed’s Beirut office has come under attack at least twice before, as CPJ has documented. In February 2019, unidentified assailants in a car threw a hand grenade at the office, damaging the building. In February 2017, a mob of supporters of the Shia party Amal attacked the office with fireworks, firebombs, and rocks.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment. 

[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its third paragraph to correct the spelling of Khayyat’s name.]