Hezbollah Is Suing Rabih Tlais Just Hours After He Emerges From Going Missing

Rabin Tlais/Mohammed Zaatari

Member of the Lebanese Parliament and spokesperson of Hezbollah Ibrahim Mousawi, filed a lawsuit with the top investigative judge of Bekaa against journalist Rabih Tlais of Sawt Beirut International for alleged defamation.

In response, Sawt Beirut issued the following in a statement:

“Hezbollah continues to terrorize journalists from exercising their freedom of speech, since MP Ibrahim Al-Mousawi, as a representative of Hezbollah and the Resistance Bloc in the parliament, filed a lawsuit to the investigative judge in Bekaa, Amani Salama, against our journalist in Sawt Beirut International, Rabih Tlais.”

“Through the legal representative, attorney Montazer Nasir al-Din, the lawsuit claims that Tlais utilized publications and writings to defame, slander, incite sectarian strife, and accuse the Hezbollah party of being behind the Beirut port explosion, as well as labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” the local media outlet added.

This development comes after Rabih Tlais went missing on Thursday, with no explanation about his disappearance besides speculation that Hezbollah might be the reason behind it.

A month ago, Tlais published photographs and videos proving that there is Ammonium Nitrate at an alleged Hezbollah missile factory located in a residential neighborhood in Beirut.

In a more recent video-message that started circulating after his disappearance, Tlais said that he feared he’d be framed over his work. People close to him said that he spoke of a “big” issue he was in before he disappeared.

However, a protest was held this morning outside the Justice Palace demanding information about the journalist’s whereabouts. Within half an hour, Rabih Tlais “just showed up” with no explanation.

This isn’t the first lawsuit that Hezbollah files for alleged “defamation” related to the Beirut Port explosion.

The Iran-backed party is going after Lebanese media and/or its reporters, as well as officials, like General Ashraf Rifi, or influential figures, like Bahaa Hariri, the brother of prime minister-designate Saad Hariri.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah’s attorney filed a lawsuit against former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, alleging “incitement, sedition, and threat to civil peace” because he blamed the Beirut Port blast on the party. 

Rifi, who had also served as head of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), testified before Judge Sawan, that the Ammonium Nitrate, which exploded the port, was sent to Beirut by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah followed his lawsuit against General Rifi with similar action against former MP Fares Souaid and the Lebanese Forces’ media website for accusing Hezbollah of standing behind the deadly blast.

A week later, it filed a lawsuit against Bahaa Hariri, who has been openly criticizing the Iran-backed party.

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