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From the August Issue of World Press Review, (VOL. 48, No. 8)

Middle East Enemies List


Joel Campagna
Contributing Editor


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 Lebanon’s 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, Israel’s former coordinator of activities in southern Lebanon. The discussion focused on the political situation in the Middle East.

Dergham’s indictment is but the latest episode in a year-long harassment campaign by the Lebanese government. On June 19, 2000, authorities seized Dergham’s 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 Dergham’s 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 government’s 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.


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