Former Minister’s Bodyguards Just Confessed To Attacking Journalist in Beirut

On February 12th, economic and financial affairs journalist Mohammad Zbeeb was assaulted after leaving a seminar organized by the American University of Beirut’s Secular Club.

The attack was initially thought to have been perpetrated by the Internal Security Forces.

However, three men, who work as bodyguards to former Minister of State Marwan Kheireddine, confessed to committing the attack because he was “attacking the boss.” They added that Kherieddine himself is not linked to the attack.

Zbeeb is fairly well-known for his financial reporting and activism against the ruling class and economic corruption. He had previously resigned from his position as editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar‘s business page because of the media outlet’s opposition to the revolution.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that they are still seeking to establish whether anyone else was involved in the crime.

They are currently looking into whether or not someone incited them towards the crime and who was surveilling Zbeeb prior to him being attacked by the three men.

In response to the incident, 1000 protesters attended a solidarity sit-in in front of the Central Bank in Hamra the day after the assault under the slogan “Journalism is not a scapegoat.”

The Alternative Union for Journalists also condemned the attack, saying that it was “an assault on all journalists and the revolution and a crime against freedoms.”

Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm also took to Twitter to condemn the attack back then, saying that it “demonstrates a dangerous trend to intimidate and scare the media, especially those with dissenting voices.”

She promised that she will follow up on the investigations surrounding the incident.

This is not the first time a journalist gets attacked during this revolution or reporters get their rights violated by the followers of the parties in power or members of the security forces.

Journalists, because they cover sensitive topics, are prone to being targets of abuse and unlawful arrests. According to Reporter without Borders, Lebanon ranks 108 out of 180 countries when it comes to freedom of the press. 

This isn’t either the first time a pro-revolution get attacked by bodyguards of a minister or a politician. As early as the first evening of the revolution, a bodyguard of a minister opened fire at protesters.

A protester who acted in self-defense against him back then has been now summoned to the military court. 

Moreover, some protesters who were assaulted by the bodyguards of an MP are being sued by the MP.

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