BEIRUT — Two women have sued former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a New York federal court for “rape, assault, and batter[y],” according to a complaint filed on March 20. Hariri’s brothers, Bahaa Hariri, Ayman Hariri and Mohammed Hariri, are also defendants in the case, accused of “negligent infliction of emotional distress,” “retaliation” and “discrimination.”
The women who brought the case are former flight attendants on Hariri’s personal jet. They are not named in the court papers seen by L'Orient Today; instead, they are referred to as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2." The plaintiffs are residents of Australia and Wales.
“This case involves Defendant S. HARIRI’s brutal workplace rape of Plaintiff DOE 2, and multiple instances of false imprisonment, sexual assault, and sexual harassment of both Plaintiffs,” the complaint alleges.
Jane Doe 1 says she was hired by Saudi Oger in 2006 and assigned to work on Saad Hariri’s private aircraft. She claims that “almost immediately” after she began working on the aircraft Hariri “sexually assaulted” her. She also claims other female colleagues told her Hariri had been sexually assaulted them. She said she attempted to report the matter to her supervisor and upper management but was rebuffed. She says the alleged sexual abuse continued until her resignation from Saudi Oger in 2009.
Saudi Oger is a construction company owned by the Hariri family. The company ceased operating in 2017.
Hariri announced his withdrawal from politics following his failure to form a government in July 2021, and his party did not compete in last year's parliamentary elections. Hariri has since left Lebanon to settle in the United Arab Emirates, where he has turned his focus to his business interests.
Jane Doe 2, also a flight attendant, says she began working at Saudi Oger around November 2006. She alleges that Saad Hariri “violently and forcibly raped” her onboard his aircraft. She alleges he raped her “at least” four times. She also claims that Bahaa Hariri made “unwelcome sexual advances” toward her. She says she was fired from Saudi Oger around 2010.
It’s the third time the women have attempted to sue Hariri in New York, according to a report by the New York Post.
"Two previous lawsuits in state court were either dropped or dismissed by a judge," the New York Post wrote.
In a March 25 statement, Saad Hariri’s media office said, “For the third time, these two anonymous plaintiffs, who do not reside in the United States and do not have any relations with it, are filing a lawsuit full of completely false and unacceptable accusations aimed at provocation and slander against Saad Hariri, who in turn has no ties to the states."
"And after another court in New York previously approved our request to dismiss the original case, and automatically refused to accept the case in the second attempt, the two vaguely named and false complainants return the ball a third time. It is remarkable that these cases are filed by a law firm against which the courts have taken penalties many times because of its misconduct," the statement added.
"Hariri will defend himself in court," the statement concluded.
The plaintiffs have requested a trial by jury.
Contacted by L'Orient Today, a spokesperson for Hariri's Future Movement said he has no further comments beyond the statement released by Hariri's media office. Also contacted by L'Orient Today, an advisor to Hariri was not immediately available for comment.
In 2019, it was revealed that Hariri had reportedly sent his bikini-model lover, Candice van der Merwe, $16 million in payments. Candice van der Merwe was then investigated in her hometown in South Africa for failing to report the money for tax purposes.
A few days after The New York Times published an article on the matter, Hariri, then prime minister, reacted by saying, "No matter what campaigns are launched against me, despite everything they may say, write or do, I will continue to work and I will not stop."
Mere weeks later, Hariri resigned as a popular protest movement calling for an end to the corruption wrought by the incumbent political elite swept the country.