Lebanese political prisoner returns from Syria after 27 years


The release of a Lebanese man who had been detained in Syria for the past 27 years brought back to the spotlight the issue of the Lebanese who went missing during Lebanon’s 1975-90 Civil War.

The man was identified as 49-year-old Yaacoub Chamoun, who was seized in the eastern city of Zahle, and later moved to several Syrian prisons during his incarceration, including the notorious Mezze, Saydnaya and Tadmor prisons.

Chamoun was also placed in solitary confinement for four years.

He was later transferred to a civilian prison and was able to secure his release by paying millions in cash through a powerful Syrian lawyer.

The release of Chamoun in July proved that Syrian authorities were still detaining Lebanese political prisoners despite claims that they had set all of them free.

The Assad regime has long denied holding any prisoners of conscience, but on four different occasions between 1976 and 2000 has released Lebanese who had been held in Syrian prisons.

The man confirmed to LBCI TV network that there are Lebanese political prisoners in Syrian jails and said he had encountered five of them but he refused to name them for fears that the revelation would do them harm.

The head of the committee of Lebanese political detainees in Syrian jails, Ali Abu Dehen, told An Nahar daily that a former prisoner had been sent to meet Chamoun and inquire him about other Lebanese.

But the committee failed in getting any additional information , Abu Dehen said.

The civil war has claimed the lives of at least 150,000 people. For over 21 years, more than 600 families — Lebanese and Palestinian — have demanded authorities reveal the fate of the thousands believed to have disappeared at the hands of Syrian troops who entered Lebanon shortly after the outbreak of the war.