BEIRUT – Lebanon’s Minister of Justice Henri Khoury said Wednesday he intends to file a lawsuit against alternative media platform Megaphone, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The suit was filed over a news story posted on the platform’s Instagram page, with the headline "The Minister of Justice Leads the Coup against Bitar." The ministry alleges the story is “fake and fabricated news.”
The NNA added that the ministry is prepared to sue any outlet it deems to have “fabricated and published false and misleading news regarding the Minister of Justice.”
Contacted by L'Orient-Today, a spokesperson for Megaphone News said that neither they nor their lawyers have yet received notification of the lawsuit and had only heard about it through the NNA.
The social media post in question details that Khoury intends to replace port blast investigator Tarek Bitar with Judge Samaranda Nassar. In September 2022, L’Orient Le Jour reported similar attempts on the part of Khoury to appoint Nassar to address “urgent matters” in the probe into the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, as it relates to the fate of detainees. The report also noted that Nassar is close to the party of former president Michel Aoun.
Megaphone’s post also said that there is an obstacle preventing Nassar's appointment to head the port blast probe, namely that such an appointment requires the approval of the Higher Judicial Council.
Following the news, civil society non-profit Samir Kassir Foundation tweeted Wednesday that such a lawsuit "does not affect freedom of expression alone, but rather comes as an attempt to put pressure on independent media and platforms." It also noted that the ministry's efforts would have been better spent supporting the families of the victims of the Beirut port blast “and hold those responsible for this explosion accountable, rather than go after the media platforms that strive to uncover the truth.”