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the August Issue of World Press Review, (VOL. 48, No. 8)
Middle East Enemies List
A Lebanese military court has charged an American-Lebanese
reporter with dealing with the enemy because she
participated in a forum that included a former Israeli official.
Raghida Dergham, the New York bureau chief for the Saudi-owned
and London-based Al-Hayat and a noted commentator on
Arab affairs, stands accused of dealing with the enemy,
a crime under Article 278 of Lebanons penal code that
carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.
The charge stems from her participation in a May 19, 2000,
panel sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy in Washington, D.C., that included Uri Lubrani, Israels
former coordinator of activities in southern Lebanon. The
discussion focused on the political situation in the Middle
Derghams indictment is but the latest episode in a year-long
harassment campaign by the Lebanese government. On June 19,
2000, authorities seized Derghams Lebanese passport
when she arrived at the Beirut airport, accompanying U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on his tour of several Middle
East countries. Her passport was returned prior to her departure
the next day, but it contained a stamp annulling it and prohibiting
its renewal without the approval of the General Directorate
for Internal Security.
Although authorities gave no reason for the annulment of Derghams
passport at the time, Internal Security later stated that
be-cause she had participated in the panel with Lubrani, she
had violated a Lebanese law prohibiting contacts between Lebanese
citizens and Israelis.
Dergham has written critically of the Lebanese governments
dispute with the United Nations last year over the demarcation
of the Lebanese-Israeli border.
In its first hearing on the matter on June 1, the military
court adjourned until Nov. 30 in order to give Dergham, who
is based in New York, the opportunity to appear. It is unclear
whether she will go to Beirut to face the charges.