BEIRUT — Kuwaiti journalist Fajr al-Said, known for her anti-Hezbollah and pro-normalization with Israel stance, Tweeted Wednesday that she had been turned away on arrival at Beirut's International Airport. The journalist said she had been notified by Lebanese General Security (GS) of a "permanent ban" on entering Lebanon and believes the measure is linked to her political views.
A statement issued by the GS on Thursday confirmed that al-Said was indeed banned from entering Lebanon, and explained that "the entry of Arabs and foreigners into Lebanon is regulated by law and managed solely by the GS."
"Those concerned [by measures taken against them] can contact the GS to have their files reviewed," the text states. When contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, the GS was unavailable to provide further information on the matter.
In a video she shot while waiting to be sent back to her country, Said recounts how she was held for over 5 hours by authorities, without internet access to contact her relatives. A GS employee finally helped her connect to the Internet to buy a return ticket. Said returned to Kuwait on Thursday morning. she revealed in her video that employees of the Kuwaiti diplomatic representation in Lebanon went to the airport to assist her.
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, a spokesman at the Kuwaiti consulate was unable to confirm this information. The Kuwaiti consul was also unavailable for comment.
Kuwaiti diplomatic representation in Lebanon was briefly curtailed in 2021, after Saudi Arabia seized more than 5.3 million captagon pills from Beirut. The Kuwaiti ambassador resumed his duties in Beirut in April 2022.
'Second North Korea?'
Said said on Twitter that her deportation was a "clear message."
"You know who is responsible for decisions here. This case is eminently political...maybe some are bothered by my political opinions," she said. "Do those who are preventing me from entering Lebanon think they can prevent my voice from being heard by the Lebanese?" she asked.
Last November, the Kuwaiti journalist spoke about Hezbollah and the question of normalization with Israel during an interview on the program Al Majhoul, presented on the LBCI channel by Rodolphe Hilal. "Mr. Rodolphe, you asked me if Hezbollah was a democratic party. Look, despite my attacks against it, they let me enter Lebanon," Said Tweeted ironically.
Reacting to the incident, Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea on Thursday criticized the journalist's deportation which he said was "carried out in a police manner and without any legal basis."
"This is an attack on Lebanon's values and its relations with Arab countries. Kuwait has always been a friend of Lebanon," Geagea said. According to the LF leader, the journalist was turned away "because of her clear and transparent stance on the axis of the Mumanaa [the pro-Iranian axis]."
"The question is: has Lebanon turned into a second North Korea?" Samir Geagea asked, calling on authorities to intervene.
The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) also reacted in a statement on Thursday, saying they were "astonished that the Kuwaiti journalist was arrested and questioned solely because of her political opinions."
"We condemn this procedure, which undermines freedoms and diversity in Lebanon, as well as respect for journalists. Those responsible must explain themselves on the matter and prevent this from happening again," the PSP statement continued.