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Lebanese Army to Investigate Barouk Internet Center

The Lebanese army intelligence is to take the investigation into the Internet center in the Mount Lebanon region of Barouk, which is allegedly connected to Israel, according to the Beirut daily AL AKHBAR Monday. The paper reported that State Prosecutor Judge Said Mirza handed the investigation over to the army after tensions between Telecommunications Minister Gibran Bassil and Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar rose. Bassil has said that the center in Barouk is an internet distribution company which is in contact with Israel, while Najjar has denied these claims, saying the center is nothing but a bunch of satellite dishes that have been distributing cable television without a permit. Two separate investigations were carried out into the matter, according to AL AKHBAR: One by a team in the telecommunications ministry, and another by the justice ministry. The justice ministry's investigation found no link with Israel, which prompted Bassil to respond that the justice ministry has not been given the information available to the telecoms ministry.

The two men have been at loggerheads over the matter for over two weeks, with Bassil saying that the scandal is being covered up by a "major political figure," pointing to majority MP Marwan Hamadeh, also a former telecommunications minister. Hamadeh has said he had nothing to do with it, calling for the investigation results to be made public (See MER 19/08/09).

The paper reported that the ministry of justice has said that the "center" is a television signal distribution post, according to AL AKHBAR. In turn, Bassil was quoted by the paper as responding, "The telecommunications ministry has not provided the justice ministry with all the information it has that proves the center is connected with Israel. In any case, it's not like Najjar knows what goes on inside his own ministry. We have facts and hard evidence here," he quipped. As a result of the political war of words between the two, Mirza has referred the investigation to the Lebanese army, as the two politicians now await the results of a third investigation.
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Title Annotation:Domestic Report
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Aug 25, 2009
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Next Article:Mideast-peace.

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