The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has accused Al Jadeed TV and Al Akhbar Newspaper of publishing a list of leaked names of the courts’ witnesses. The STL summoned Karma Al Khayat (Al Jadeed) & Ibrahim Al Amine (Al Akhbar) to investigate with them regarding this accusation. The STL considered this action as life threatening to these witnesses especially that their names were kept hidden due to political & safety hazards in Lebanon. Al Jadeed and Al Akhbar have considered these actions as repressions on the media freedom and have raised several legit questions such as why is it the media that is being interrogated & not those who leaked the information. The Lebanese media sphere have summoned in the Press Syndicate in solidarity with the two media outlets last week refusing the STL’s accusations. Lebanese Media Minister Ramzi Greige condemned the STL’s actions asking the Lebanese journalists to defend themselves in front of the court and to prove they are innocent.
Al Akhbar decided to bash the STL on its front cover issues stating their opinion about the subject while Al Jadeed made several reports regarding their case. One of the reports that Al Jadeed broadcast on their evening news struck us for the false information provided in it. Al Jadeed reporter Youmna Fawaz debated that the STL should have asked YouTube & Google to remove the names of the leaked witnesses since they care to much about their safety. Although what Fawaz is saying might be valuable but the data given how to remove the content was full of flaws. Al Jadeed report demonstrated an easy way of reporting/removing a video on YouTube (but did not tell the public that their channel is a YouTube partner that has the right to report videos that is owned by the channel – own production – whereas the STL does not have its own production to ask for removal). The report also had misguiding information
about the timing of the reports’ removal and referred to Google’s Transparency report as a method to remove content from Google search engine whereas it is an annual report published by Google to report the number of requests it gets from governments and courts in the world to remove content. The report also did not address the fact that Google is only one search engine out of tens out there on the web. The report contained more false information that Lebanese blogger Imad Bazzi (a social media specialist) listed as shown below (in Arabic). We do support the right of Al Jadeed & Al Akhbar to defend themselves but we think that providing false information they are not helping themselves a lot.
Another report by Rami Al Amine also contained false information accusing the STL’s speaker Martin Youssef by leaking information via the STL’s twitter account about an internal investigation if any of the STL’s staff have previously leaked any information. Al Jadeed reporter asked the STL to investigate with its own staff, disregarding the fact that Martin Youssef is the speaker of STL who is informing the public about authorized information already given approval to be public.