Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt blasted on Monday President Michel Aoun’s tenure and labeled the State Security agency a “gang.”
“Let the presidential tenure and its cronies be reassured: Every time you arrest one of us, hatred towards you and towards State Security and its gang will increase,” Jumblatt tweeted.
“No sirs, the country can’t be ruled through tyranny, oppression, theft and hunger. Any citizen has the right to free expression and your rhetoric or statements are not more polite than those who are fed up. Teach your people some manners first,” the PSP leader added.
His attack comes a few days after a PSP activist was summoned for interrogation over a political Facebook post.
According to Human Rights Watch Lebanese authorities continue to prosecute individuals for peaceful speech, police and soldiers have beaten protesters, and detainees continue to report torture by security forces.
Human Rights Watch continued to document reports of torture by Lebanese security forces, including Internal Security Forces, State Security, and the Lebanese Armed Forces. A prominent actor who was falsely accused of spying for Israel said in March that State Security held him for six days in 2017 at what appeared to be an unofficial detention site, where men tortured him. A military judge closed the case against him in May, but did not investigate his allegations of torture.
A pattern of prosecutions for criticizing officials is threatening freedom of speech and opinion in Lebanon. In 2018, authorities continued to detain and charge individuals for speech critical of government officials. The Internal Security Forces’ cybercrimes bureau has summoned activists for interrogations for social media posts criticizing officials and compelled them to sign commitments to cease their criticisms.
Defaming or criticizing the Lebanese president or army is a criminal offense carrying penalties of up to three years in prison. The Lebanese penal code also criminalizes libel and defamation, authorizing imprisonment of up to three months, and up to one year in the case of public officials.