Controversy in Lebanon as Israeli agent is flown to US

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President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab at a Cabinet meeting. (AFP)
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Amer Fakhoury was freed from a prison in Lebanon on March 19, 2020. (File/AP)
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Updated 21 March 2020

Controversy in Lebanon as Israeli agent is flown to US

  • Amer Fakhoury was ordered released Thursday by a judge in Lebanon and flown out of the country on an American military aircraft
  • Lebanon's Foreign Minister Nasif Hitti sought an explanation from Ambassador Dorothy Shea for the circumstances of Fakhoury’s exit

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti on Friday summoned the US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea over the transportation of Israeli agent Amer Al-Fakhoury from the US Embassy in Awkar to the US.
 Hitti’s office said that the minister listened to Shea give “an explanation about the circumstances of Amer Al-Fakhoury being transferred abroad from the US Embassy.”
 A US military helicopter landed at the embassy on Thursday before leaving and flying out to sea.
 US citizen Al-Fakhoury had taken refuge in the embassy on Monday, after Lebanon’s military court dropped charges of “killing and torturing detainees at Khiam prison in the South during the Israeli occupation before the year 2000” against him.
The court said that charges against him were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired, which meant that 20 years had passed since the crimes took place without anyone filing a complaint against him.
The helicopter was able to fly in due to an agreement signed by the US and Lebanon in 1982, allowing US planes to “enter Lebanese airspace and land on its territory without revealing the nature of the mission.”
Al-Fakhoury was arrested in September 2019 at Beirut airport while returning from the US after he had fled to Israel when the occupation forces withdrew from Southern Lebanon.
 He was recognized and spent months at one of Lebanon’s hospitals during his arrest, since he suffers from advanced cancer.

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US citizen Al-Fakhoury had taken refuge in the embassy,, after Lebanon’s military court dropped charges of ‘killing and torturing detainees at Khiam prison in the South during the Israeli occupation before the year 2000’ against him.

Activists accused Hezbollah of being “an accomplice of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) to release Al-Fakhoury.”
This necessitated the appearance of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on TV on Friday night to clarify its position.
The head of the court that released Al-Fakhoury, Brig. Gen. Hussein Abdallah, announced his resignation on Friday morning.
 “Out of respect for my oath and military honor, I am resigning from heading the military court, where the application of the law equals the release of an agent, the pain of a captive and the betraying of a judge,” he said.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab tweeted: “The crime of being an informant for the Israeli enemy cannot be forgotten. The rights of martyrs and liberated prisoners do not fade in heaven’s justice by the passage of time.”


Turkey detains 11 over coronavirus house party

Updated 30 March 2020

Turkey detains 11 over coronavirus house party

  • The party was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas
  • Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the party

ISTANBUL: Turkish police have detained 11 people, including the organizers and a DJ, after a weekend coronavirus house party in Istanbul where some guests dressed up as doctors, local officials said.
The party, thrown at a villa in the Buyukcekmece district Saturday night, was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas.
“These idiots have organized a home party somewhere in Istanbul” one Twitter user posted.
“How come we will stop the spread of the virus despite those idiots!!!”
Bars and nightclubs have been closed in Turkey by a circular issued by the interior ministry as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Police watched the social media broadcast then detained 11 people including the organizer, M.S. and M.E.C. and a DJ.
They were charged with “disobeying the regulations on infectious diseases,” the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement late Sunday.
The authorities were working to identify other participants, it added.
In the video footage posted, some of those partying could be seen dressed up as emergency doctors with gloves and masks.
“I drank a lot of alcohol. Everyone was dancing with the music. I regret holding such a party at a time of coronavirus,” M.S. told the police in his testimony, the private news agency DHA reported.
Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the party. “They were drinking and dancing. I later called a taxi and left.”
The DHA said police released seven people after questioning them, but the other four were sent to court.
Turkey has so far officially recorded 9,217 cases of the new coronavirus while 131 people have died.
Authorities have taken a series of measures to try to slow the spread of the virus, from suspending international flights to shutting schools.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to stay at home and adapt themselves to “voluntary quarantine” conditions.