Lebanese journalist Mariam Majdouline Laham, who appeared in the morning before the Central Department of Criminal Investigations, which reports to Prosecutor General Ghassan Oueidate at the Court of Cassation, was finally released on bail Wednesday evening, her lawyer confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour.
A judicial source close to the case confirmed to L'Oorient-Le Jour that the journalist was summoned following a message she posted on the social network X (formerly Twitter) in July, in which she accused the President of the Sunni Higher Court of Beirut, Judge Mohammad Ahmad Assaf, of personally benefiting from a case he was handling.
After her release, the journalist criticized the numerous ''violations'' to which she was subjected during her detention, in particular the fact that the key to her home was forcibly taken from her by police to carry out a search. She believes she was targeted for "working on an investigation into religious authorities.''
According to the judicial source interviewed, ''the ISF searched the journalist's home today and deleted the publication from her laptop. They also found drugs in her bag.''
''The journalist will be released without signing a recognizance. She will, however, be summoned shortly by the Anti-Drug Bureau.''
The journalist's lawyer, Diala Chehadeh, confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that Laham refused to sign a form stating she would not repeat the crime, and withdraw the tweet that led to her being summoned. During Laham's detention, her home and those of her mother and sister were ''forcibly'' searched. She also confirmed that the controversial publication was deleted from the journalist's Facebook account.
Regarding the drug possession charges, Laham's lawyer indicated that her client has refused to testify, but is prepared to appear again should she be summoned again.
'Flagrant breach of the law'
Present at the sit-in in front of the Verdun barracks, Doumit Azzi, a close friend of the journalist, criticized the fact that Laham's lawyer was forbidden from accompanying the inspectors to the journalist's home during their search. ''Her laptop was used without her permission. This is a flagrant breach of the law,'' Azzi lamented. Activist Paula Rbeiz also denounced what she called a ''procedural flaw'' and an attempt to divert attention from the case raised by the journalist.
''We're moving towards a police state. This is an attack on press freedom,'' she added.
Forces of Change MP Michel Douaihi was also present at the sit-in.
The Alternative Press Syndicate criticized the search of Laham's home in the absence of her lawyer and the use of her laptop, and denouncing what they considered a serious infringement and procedures considered ''null and void.''
On Tuesday, the president of the Press Editors Syndicate, Joseph Kossaifi, told L'Orient-Le Jour that he advised Laham against appearing before the Central Criminal Investigation Department, arguing that ''any journalist prosecuted in a publication case should only appear before the court of prints.''
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Kossaifi reiterated this position.
Laham's is not the only recent case to target press freedom. At the end of March, Jean Kassir, co-founder of the media outlet Megaphone News, was summoned by State Security. Lara Bitar, editor-in-chief of the investigative media outlet The Public Source, was summoned by the Cybercrime Bureau. In July, Lebanese journalist and television personality Dima Sadek was sentenced to one year in prison, following a complaint filed against her three years ago by the Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, who accusing her of defamation and slander.