On Monday, June 22nd, military prosecutor Judge Fadi Akiki charged political activist Kinda El-Khatib with the crime of “dealing with the enemy” and visiting occupied Palestinian territories, reported the National News Agency (NNA).
She was also charged with “dealing with the spies of the Israeli enemy and those dealing with its interests,” reported NNA, indicating that the judge referred her to a military investigative judge for questioning.
The military judge is expected to issue “a formal arrest warrant.”
23-year-old Kinda El-Khatib and her brother, Bandar, were taken from their home in Akkar on Thursday, June 18th. Bandar was released while Kinda remains in custody.
Her arrest “comes in wake of spate of recent prosecutions targeting individuals peacefully voicing their criticism of the government on social media,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon and Bahrain researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Kinda was known to have been vocal with her criticism of both Hezbollah and the Lebanese president.
Two hashtags with Khatib’s name were trending, one calling for her freedom and another with opposing factions accusing her of being an agent for Israel.
Dozens of people, including her family and friends, have carried out protests demanding her release, claiming that she was set up because of her outspoken stance against Hezbollah.
At the announcement of the official charges, activists and relatives of Khatib staged a sit-in outside the Military Tribunal in Beirut on Monday morning, protesting against the verdict and proclaiming her innocence.
They pointed out the lack of supporting evidence for the charges Khatib is facing.
They also made parallels to the arrest of filmmaker Ziad Itani, who was wrongly accused of collaborating with Israel and spent four months in prison. He was released in 2018 after being cleared of these charges.