Journalists have been the target of police violence in recent developments of the Lebanese protests, and foreign journalists are no different.
American journalist Nicholas Frakes has been released from military detention in Lebanon after he was accused of providing a Livestream of protests in the capital to an Israeli-based news organization.
Taking to Twitter upon his release, Frakes jokingly wrote: “I’ve been released from custody. It’s good to be back. Did I miss anything?” The journalist accused of “leaking” news to the news agency Haaretz, a claim both he and Haaretz immediately denied.
A statement on the Haaretz website explicitly read: “No journalist was reporting for the newspaper on the protests from Beirut, and it has no connection to the US citizen being held.”
It further stressed that any live videos shared on their outlets were the property of Reuters and sourced accordingly. The Livestream footage was taken from Reuters Connect, not Frakes, the agency said.
When The New Arab news outlet reached out to Reuters’ office in London, Reuters confirmed the Livestream from the Lebanese protests was from Reuters Connect, a platform accessible by news publications across the world used to source videos, photos, and texts for news stories.
Frakes had been in Beirut over the weekend documenting the ongoing protests, which had taken a violent turn as confrontations between police and demonstrators escalated prior to the announcement of Lebanon’s long-awaited new government.
Between 16 and 19 January 2020, Lebanese Security Forces reportedly assaulted more than 20 journalists and media workers covering the protests in Beirut, according to multiple sources.
Frakes could have simply been another American in the wrong place at the wrong time.
His arrest caused worries about the way he would be treated in detention, and especially if held under these sensitive accusations in a closed military court system.
Frakes is currently safe. You can keep up with his latest on his Coffee & Journalism Podcast.