Man arrested at airport for Facebook jabs at Sleiman.
BEIRUT: A suspect wanted for defaming the president was arrested at the Rafik Hariri International Airport of Tuesday, upon returning to the country.
Ahmad Ali Shuman, one of four people suspected of using the social networking website Facebook to defame President Michel Sleiman, was arrested by security forces as he arrived in Beirut from Kiev, Ukraine.
Security forces were implementing an arrest warrant issued against Shuman last month on charges of libel, slander and defamation of the president on Facebook.
Soon after Shuman left the Ukrainian International Airlines plane he was boarding, he was stopped by security forces and transported to Roumieh prison. He is to face interrogation in the presence of First Investigative Magistrate Judge Ghassan Oueidat.
Oueidat had studied the files of the three other suspects in the case, Naim George Hanna, 27, Antoine Youssef Ramia, 29, and Shebel Rajeh Qasab, 27. The judge concluded his investigations and transferred the files to the prosecutor's office at the Beirut Court of Appeals.
The three men were arrested on June 28 and were released on July 2 but they are still set to stand trial before a judge. Their derogatory posts were also made inaccessible on Facebook.
General prosecutor Saeed Mirza was the magistrate who ordered the arrest of the three men and issued an arrest warrant against Shuman. By law, Lebanon's general prosecutor must take action in any case of libel, slander or defamation against the president or any "sister state" of Lebanon regardless of whether a plaintiff comes forward to press charges.
Nonetheless, the arrests raised controversy inside and outside the country, as a number of people considered the arrest a violation of freedom of speech.
The international human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch has urged the government to repeal penal code provisions that treated libel and defamation as indictable offenses. -- The Daily Star
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