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Lebanon releases activist accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel

Social media campaigner Kinda al-Khatib had been sentenced to 3 years; after appeal accepted, new verdict to be handed down, lawyer says

Lebanese protesters call for the release of Kinda al-Khatib during a demonstration in June 2020 outside the Beirut military court. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Lebanese protesters call for the release of Kinda al-Khatib during a demonstration in June 2020 outside the Beirut military court. (Screen capture: Twitter)

BEIRUT — Lebanon released a social media activist on bail on Tuesday, after her lawyer filed an appeal against a three-year sentence for “collaborating” with Israel, the lawyer and a judicial source said.

Kinda al-Khatib, who is in her twenties, was arrested in June and charged with “collaborating with the enemy,” “entering the occupied Palestinian territories” and “collaborating with spies of the Israeli enemy.”

Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel and forbids its citizens from traveling to the neighboring country.

Khatib was sentenced to three years in prison in December.

“The military appeals court on Tuesday decided to release the activist Kinda al-Khatib in exchange for a bail of three million Lebanese pounds,” ($1,990 officially, $200 at the market rate), the judicial source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the case.

Her lawyer Jocelyne al-Rahi told AFP she had filed an appeal that had been accepted and a new verdict would be issued.

“Kinda will continue to appear in court” until the new judgment, she added.

Since mass protests erupted against the political class in October 2019, several social media activists in Lebanon have been called in for questioning or intimidated, according to free speech defenders.

Khatib’s family and activists have denounced her arrest as “political” and a reaction to her tweets against those in power.

Amnesty International has called for a trial in a civilian court.

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